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Flowers, Strawberries, & Missiles

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    Nine-year old child assaulted by Israeli Troops IMEMC Staff http://www.imemc.org/article/54316 Israeli army troops assualted nine-year old Palestinian Saqer
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2008
      Nine-year old child assaulted by Israeli Troops
      IMEMC Staff

      Israeli army troops assualted nine-year old Palestinian Saqer
      al-'Aramen from the town of al-'Ezariah in Jerusalem on Friday evening.

      Muqith Abu Roomy, director of the Media office of Asrana center in
      Jerusalem reported that an Israeli force comprised of 8 soldiers
      heavily beat the child while he was on his way home. Soldiers claimed
      they were confused by a toy-gun the child was playing with.

      The child was hospitalized as he received injuries to his head and
      different parts of his body. Medics declared that he's also
      psychologically hurt and confused as a result of battering.

      Abu Roomy called upon the Human Rights organizations, the Arab League,
      the Quartet Committee and the United Nations to provide protection for
      Palestinian Children.

      A number of Palestinian children were killed and others wounded by
      Israeli army gun-fire when troops claimed that they were confused by
      toy-guns the children were playing with.

      Translated by Nisreen Qumsieh - IMEMC News.


      Gazans told to boil water as chlorine runs low

      GAZA (Reuters) - The Palestinian water utility urged Gazans on
      Wednesday to boil their drinking water and said contamination was a
      risk because an Israeli-led blockade was choking off chlorine
      supplies. The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, which runs the
      Gaza water system, said it was struggling to disinfect water due to
      shortages of chemicals as well as spare parts for pumps and other
      equipment. But Israel, which has tightened restrictions on the
      Hamas-run enclave in what it says is a response to militant rocket
      fire, said it only received a request for chlorine on Wednesday and
      was still processing it. The CMWU said 52 of Gaza's 140 water wells
      had no chlorine and the others were fast running out.

      The utility posted a newspaper advert on Wednesday warning the Gaza
      Strip's 1.5 million residents the situation could prompt an epidemic.

      "Until we resolve the problem, the people of Gaza should boil water to
      disinfect it," CMWU official Monther Shoblak said.

      Peter Lerner, spokesman for Israel's Coordinator of Government
      Activities in the Territories, said the CMWU should have requested
      that chlorine be allowed into Gaza earlier. Gaza's water supply has
      been patchy for some time. The CMWU says it cannot import spare parts
      to repair old pumps due to Israeli sanctions. Israel says some
      equipment, such as metal pipes, is banned for fear militants would use
      it to assemble makeshift rockets.

      Israel closed Gaza's crossings to most non humanitarian goods in June
      after Hamas Islamists seized control of the territory, and has since
      tightened restrictions further. Humanitarian groups have denounced the
      blockade as collective punishment.

      (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Rebecca Harrison; Editing by Myra


      Israel announces more building on Palestinian land
      Associated Press
      Tuesday, 1 April 2008

      JERUSALEM — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had
      barely left Israel on Monday after her latest peacekeeping
      mission when Israeli officials announced plans to build 1,400
      new homes on land Palestinians claim for a future state.

      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to keep building in east
      Jerusalem and the West Bank, dismissing Palestinian claims
      that construction on contested land is the greatest obstacle
      to peace.

      The disclosure of the construction plans immediately after
      Rice's visit demonstrated the intensity of the political
      pressures that Olmert faces.

      He continues to support construction in disputed areas, over
      the objections of the Palestinians and the US, because it
      allows him to keep his fragile coalition intact.

      The Israeli construction plans threatened to make it even
      harder for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to overcome
      his people's skepticism that diplomacy, not violence, would
      win them a state.

      Announcement comes on heel of Rice visit

      Rice arrived in the region Saturday for three days of talks
      with Israeli and Palestinian officials meant to advance the US
      goal of achieving a peace agreement before President Bush
      leaves office in January.

      "I think it's all moving in the right direction," Rice said at a
      news conference with Abbas in Jordan.

      She also warned Israel to halt new settlement activities
      that could upset progress.

      "Settlement activity should stop — expansion should stop,"
      Rice said.

      But two new construction projects were already being

      The city of Jerusalem said it plans to build 600 new
      apartments in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood, which lies
      in the eastern sector of Jerusalem that Palestinians see
      as their future capital.

      'More on the way'

      The Shas Party, a powerful partner in Olmert's coalition
      government, said the prime minister had promised to revive
      frozen plans to build 800 homes in Beitar Illit, an ultra-
      Orthodox settlement in the West Bank.

      "There are more on the way," party spokesman Roi
      Lachmanovitch said.

      Earlier in the day, Olmert pledged that Israel would build
      in east Jerusalem and heavily Jewish areas of the West Bank
      — land Israel expects to keep in a final peace agreement.

      "This is going on within the framework of negotiations,
      and the negotiations will continue to progress," he said.

      Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the
      construction plans and appealed to the Americans to
      intervene. "This announcement is changing the situation
      on the ground for the worse," Erekat said.


      Gaza Farms Die Silently
      By Motasem Dalloul

      Photo: Farmers forced at gunpoint to destroy their crops at
      Gaza-Israel border

      GAZA CITY - While much of the media focus is justifiably on the lack
      of electricity, food stuff and medical supplies, Gaza farmers and
      their dying business continue to be a silent victim of the
      never-ending Israeli siege.

      "I can export only a small portion of the potatoes crop I have planted
      with painstaking efforts to make sure it meets the high-standard
      quality needed for exporting," Nafeth abu-Shiekh, a 47-year-old
      farmer, told IslamOnline.net near the eastern Gaza border line.

      "They promised to solve the problem of the siege but unfortunately
      nothing happened and I am sometimes forced to damage my fruits with my
      own hands," he added with anger and despair shaping his face features.

      "I won't be able to get even the expenses of seeds, pesticides and
      fertilizers as well as the minimum wages of laborers," Nafeth said.

      Israel has been closing the Gaza Strip's exits to the outside world
      since Hamas took control of the territory last June after routing
      rival Fatah.

      It has completely locked down the coastal area since January.

      "Things are far worse for Gaza this time," said agronomist Younis
      Zaytoonya, censorship director in the Agriculture Ministry.

      "It seems that there is nothing to do with agriculture products except
      damaging them," he regretted.

      "Potatoes used to be a money-making crop with more than 7,000 tons
      exported and hundreds of tons stored to be sold yearlong but today it
      has become a disastrous crop because of its huge losses."

      Dr. Mohammed al-Agha, the minister of agriculture in the Gaza
      government, put the daily losses of the sector at more than $150,000
      as a result of the Israeli siege.

      "This figure will exceeds $125 million at the end of this year if
      nothing changed."

      He stressed that this aggravates the situation for Gazans, the
      majority of whom have already been living under the poverty line for

      Agrarian year consists of three seasons for the farmers in Gaza.

      "The seasonal income for 45,000 vegetable farmers in Gaza is $ 90
      million per season," al-Agha said.

      "This is completely lost. The same thing goes for 15,000 fruit farmers

      Old Farming

      Ramadan Salah, a husband of two and father of 9, is not better off.

      "I go to the farm every day and look at my land but can't do any
      thing," he said.

      "I only plant some vegetables for the house consumption and some extra
      that I hope to sell in order to get some money for my children," he added.

      Jamal al-Khodari, the chairman of the Popular Committee against the
      Siege, said the Israeli siege has also forced many farmers to plant
      the old way.

      "The Israelis don't allow any rude or productive material for farming
      and industry including modified seeds, pesticides and chemical
      fertilizers used in farming," he said.

      "The high prices and shortage of fuel affects farmers as they can't
      use tractors to cultivate their lands," he added.

      This has forced most farmers to return to the traditional methods of

      "Beside non-profitable returns, the old methods of farming exhaust
      farmers and do not yield high standard products," said Zaytoonya, the

      No Future

      Even if the siege is lifted in the near future, which remains highly
      unlikely, the sufferings of the Gaza farmers would not end.

      "Modified seeds, pesticides and fertilizers are running out and I may
      not find them the next season," said abu-Shiekh.

      "So after dismissing all the six workers who used to help me in my
      farm, I only plant for home consumption."

      Tawfeeq Salama, a 41-year-old farmer from Beit Laheya, isn't planning
      to plant his farm for the coming season as a result of the losses of
      the current one.

      "It's clear that we will lose if we planted any crop."

      He said they had only planted this seasons after Israeli promises to
      facilitate vegetables and fruits exports and imports.

      Salama regrets that he believed the Israelis and planted his favorite
      strawberry corp.

      "I only got to export a bit of my crop and sell some in the local
      markets before I had to damage the rest.

      "I've paid $9,000 for 9 donums of strawberry but only made $3,000," he

      "So I won't be able to plant any new crop even if the siege was lifted
      in the near future because of my huge comedown."

      (IslamOnline.net and agencies)


      Flowers, Strawberries, and Missiles
      April 11th

      BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza- Just 300 yards from the hidden eyes in the Israeli
      tank, Ahmed Felfel picks his strawberries. But it isn't the Israelis
      in the tank who worry him as much as those others who will not let him
      sell them.

      Earlier, it was flowers grown in Gaza and then fed to camels because
      the Israeli blockade would not let them through. Now it is
      strawberries grown and wasted.

      It is Gaza's irony that the most desperate conditions produce some of
      the finest people seek. Nature itself has been kind to Gaza; the soil
      is rich, there is plenty of sunshine, and predictable rainfall. All
      that produces strawberries of a quality that the best restaurants in
      Europe like to serve.

      After Gaza elected Hamas, Israel moved swiftly with U.S. backing to
      isolate the 23-mile long strip of land with Israel on one side and the
      Mediterranean on the other. It's a siege that will not let even
      flowers and strawberries through.

      "I am alive but I feel dead," says Ahmed Felfel. He is expecting losses
      of 35,000 to 45,000 dollars as a result of the Israeli blockade. That
      is above more direct losses. "Israeli tanks and bulldozers demolished
      my irrigation system, my greenhouses, my equipment."

      Beit Lahiya is close to the Israeli border, and just a few miles from
      the Israeli town Siderot which has been within reach of home-made
      rockets fired from within Gaza. Israel, in turn, has launched deadly
      missile attacks on Gaza.

      The Israelis come in and simply bulldoze any place they think can hide
      a launching pad for rockets. When they find nothing, no compensation
      is offered.

      In an average year, Gaza's 6,000 strawberry farmers harvest nearly
      2,000 tonnes of the fruit that sell altogether for about 10 million
      dollars. Two-thirds is normally shipped out through Agrexco, the
      agriculture exchange half-owned by the Israeli government that Gaza's
      fruit and flower growers are required to use.

      In November two trucks carrying flowers and six carrying strawberries
      were allowed through by the Israelis. Then the blockade came down

      Agrexco vice-president Malachy J. Malinovich has said "Palestinian
      producers have decided not to continue shipping." That could be partly
      true, because many Palestinian farmers have decided not to grow fruits
      and flowers rather than spend all that time and money only to see
      their produce rot.

      Ahmed al-Shafi, director of Gaza's Agriculture Cooperative, says that
      one shipment of 12 tonnes of strawberries was destroyed in December
      last year because it was held up at the Karem Shalom crossing (Hebrew
      for what the Palestinians call Karm Abu Salem).

      Gaza has an airport and sea port, but Israel prevents their use. On
      the other hand the border crossing at Rafah into Egypt is sealed by
      Egypt, under heavy U.S. pressure.

      "We used to sell a kilo of strawberries for 4.50 dollars," says
      al-Shafi. "Now it sells for 50 cents here."

      Two years ago, he said, 40 to 45 tonnes of strawberries were exported
      from Gaza daily in season. This year, no more than 100 tonnes have
      been exported so far.

      And this may do long-term damage. Europe could simply get used to
      importing from elsewhere. And Gaza could face an "emigration of
      experience" because the best farmers are heading out to Egypt.

      Al-Shafi has been privileged enough to be allowed out of Gaza. He has
      spoken to EU representatives and to U.S. officials in Tel Aviv. "We
      Palestinians and Israelis are neighbours and farmers," he said. "We
      should seek a way to co-exist."

      Particularly now, and particularly Israelis. It's the year of Shimita
      that comes every seven years, when Orthodox Jews are required to eat
      foods produced by non-Jewish sources. Some, at least, of the Israeli
      blockade is against Israelis.


      No mercy
      Najwa Sheikh writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine,
      1 May 2008

      [See photo at above website of the family funeral]

      Mourners gather around the bodies of four Palestinian children and
      their mother from the Abu Me'teq family during their funeral in Beit
      Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Earlier that day, the four
      children, aged one to five, and their mother were killed when an
      Israeli army shell struck the family's home in Beit Hanoun, 28 April
      2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

      In their simple house made of metal sheets, Myassar Abu Me'teq was
      sitting next to three of her children having breakfast and holding her
      one-year-old baby in her arms. She listened to their daily complaints
      and loving quarrels, trying to comfort them and keep them away from
      the sound of the Israeli shelling close to their home in Beit Hanoun
      in the northern Gaza Strip.

      This mother did not know that their clock would soon stop ticking, not
      by their creator but by their enemy. She did not know that it was the
      last breakfast she would prepare for her children. She did not know
      that it was the last time she would hold her baby. She did not know
      that she would no longer know her children and their future as they
      also would never know their mother as an old woman. Like any mother,
      she refused to leave her children alone on their trip. She did not
      want to let go of her baby and insisted on accompanying them as one
      family in life and in death.

      But like many others before her who were killed by Israel, she did not
      know that she would be the hero of a horror movie, and that she would
      be leaving this world with her four children, leaving behind two other
      girls with the bitter taste of loss and images of their mother and
      little sisters pigmented in blood and pieces of their bodies. An
      artillery shell -- "accidentally" as Israel officials said -- hit the
      family's house and shattered the dreams of the little kids during
      their peaceful breakfast, ahead of a joyful afternoon. The shell
      killed them in a brutal way without any mercy for their tiny bodies or
      their baffled eyes.

      Talking again and again about what the Palestinians have to face in
      Gaza, their suffering and the deliberate killing of their families has
      become a banal topic that moves nobody, especially with the pervasive
      silence of fellow Palestinians, the Arab world and the larger
      international community towards such devastating events. That each
      Israeli operation will bring a new catastrophic event that talking
      about it, draws its pain and expresses the deep hatred and inhumanity
      that our enemy adopts towards us, forces me to write about these
      families and their tragedy with one hope that my words will make a
      difference and help in preventing such events in the future.

      We, the Palestinians, must begin to realize that the rules of Israel's
      killing game have changed. There is no respect for Palestinian lives,
      that they don't see as human and don't give a second thought about the
      innocent children, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters it has
      killed and entire families that it has destroyed.

      As I have written before about al-Athamna family in Beit Hanoun, Abu
      Ghalya family in Jabaliya, and Abu Me'teq family also in Beit Hanoun,
      a question is left without having an answer, not about those who were
      killed and rest forever, but about those who left behind and who have
      to live with the memories of their experience every moment for the
      rest of their lives. Day and night, even when time passes so quickly
      that things sounds fine to them, but deep down in their subconscious
      they will always keep these bad memories and force themselves to
      believe, as we all do in such experiences, the big lie that things
      will be ok and life will go on. But, the truth that we must accept is
      that these individuals will never be the same and can never live a
      normal life. We have to be prepared when the time will come when the
      monster that the Israelis have created, and that lives in the details
      of each of these stories is freed, and we the Palestinians must face
      its consequences.

      Najwa Sheikh is a Palestinian refugee from al-Majdal located just
      north of the Gaza Strip. Shiekh has lived in refugee camps in Gaza her
      entire life. She is married with three children.



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