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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The 3 Palestinian scams: Rafah border, Reconciliation & Electricity

Scams are no fun, specially local ones

Gaza, July 31, When you hear the word “scam” the first thing comes to your head is the hundreds of emails we get into our junk mail on daily basis either promoting money laundry or just selling bogus stuff. We all detest scams so much, but what if those scams were local and focal to the extent that they control your daily life? I bet you would detest them even more.

Our first and biggest most hilarious scam is\was the reconciliation, back in April Hamas and Fatah collided to come up with the most shameful scam in the Palestinian history: so-called reconciliation. The news of the reconciliation initial agreement broke suddenly and people around the world “including news agencies” were sharing whispers on how sudden and strange the news came. We heard nothing about preparations or initial meetings or nothing. We just heard “what we considered back then” the good news.

While Palestinians were busy celebrating, Hamas and Fatah were assigning dates and meetings to make this reconciliation final and start working on practical steps, but it never happened. They kept postponing the date for creating the transitional government saying they needed more time –more time maybe to benefit from this hoax- and people continued celebrating.

Apparently March15th movement and protests in Palestine were creating an international buzz which led Hamas and Fatah to come up with hoax to shut us up. They deceived us and few weeks ago both conflicted and STILL CONFLICTED parties Hamas and Fatah announced that the reconciliation reached a dead end after Hamas’s refusal of Salam Fayad and Fatah’s persistence on assigning Salam Fayad to the new transitional government. I feel ashamed because I was one of those who believed this hoax and thought that it might actually work –how na├»ve- and actually fought those who said it’s a hoax and asked me and Palestinians to becareful and not to believe in this.

Second Scam: After Egypt’s unprecedented revolution and victory in toppling Mubarak and his old regime, media outlets rushed to quote Egyptian officials who vowed to help end the siege on Gaza by opening Rafah border with less restrictions and adopting a new approach towards Gazans.

Another hoax well planned and advertised by the “new” regime in Egypt which is proving day after day that its not really different than Mubarak, same regime but different names. Media outlets then started singing and chanting about Rafah border’s great opening and that Gazans can easily travel and started predicting the future by saying “Rafah border opened, it’s the first step towards breaking the siege”. What was really funny is that I woke up everyday reading those headlines and laughing my heart out. Nothing changed at Rafah border. The first few days of this alleged new system failed epically. Then Hamas and the new Egyptian regime sank in bickering and fights and at the end Gazans were left sieged and bound to Gaza with minimal hope of traveling.

*Drum rolls*

The third and final ridiculous scam: lessening the daily long power cuts in Gaza by operating the third generator –Yeah Right- this made headlines to all local news networks.

Gazan officials in the power and energy Authority in Gaza resorted to local agencies to allegedly let Gazans know some good news about easing the daily long power cuts. Many officials said that the third generator in Gaza’s only power plant will be operated which will lessen the daily power cuts. Many Gazan officials backed up each other and kept their stories straight. Then they came up with a new scenario, “Gaza’s power plant has only 3 generators, two of them work and the third was completely damaged and took a lifetime and so much money to fix, it will be operated during the summer and Ramadan only”. Everyone believed these allegations until they saw no change in the daily power cuts. If anything, the power cuts were expanding and this was driving Gazans mad. The weather is super hot here in Gaza during summer and tomorrow is Ramadan which will require us to fast till 7 pm Gaza local time, the sun goes down at 7:30 – 8 pm in Gaza which leaves us with many hours of heat each day.

Ramadan will definitely be a challenge but Gazans are very used to this and we have seen even worse. But what makes us mad are those continuous and shameless local Palestinian scams made by Palestinian leaders and officials. Its like your own people are degrading the level of your intelligence, wouldn’t you be pissed off?

I guess that leads us to one thing: Never believe a Palestinian leader until you see practical and real steps taken on ground, even then don’t believe him and wait till the steps are made on a continuous basis, even then don’t believe him and wait till he finishes all his steps, even then don’t believe him and wait till he turns to the media to say what you believed in was a complete lie. Oh well, in the end, just don’t believe any Palestinian leader when it comes to internal issues, believe your instincts and experiences.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

UNRWA beach camp in Gaza burned “AGAIN”

Lets play the blame game

Gaza, July 30, I guess it became a routine to hear about the burning or vandalizing of UNRWA’s children beach camp in Gaza, it has happened a few times over the past year and it happened yet again this year. Let me just brush over the official shared news in the mainstream media, UNRWA’s website and the top news agencies in the world:

CNN used UNRWA’s press release about the incident:

A U.N.-sponsored summer camp in Gaza was vandalized Thursday morning, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said. Officials say a group of masked militants torched a U.N. flag and a stage, and damaged a billboard carrying Finnish, American and Australian flags.
The attack took place just hours before 15,000 local children attending UNRWA Summer Games prepared to smash a Guinness world record for the largest number of people flying kites.

"The igniting is an unacceptable cowardly act and severely harms the image of Gaza," said Adnan Abu Hassan, a legal adviser for the U.N. in Gaza. "We didn't expect this to happen, especially since this is the last day of the summer camp."

Abu Hassan said security was extremely high to ensure the safety of the children. "We have asked the government in Gaza to investigate the matter. Our answer to the attack is to continue the occasion as normal."
"The stage is set for another dramatic piece of world-record mega-theater," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said in preparation for record-breaking event.
"It will be nothing short of miraculous to achieve this under the punishing, illegal blockade. Three-quarters of a million children are being collectively punished, and there must be transparency and accountability to end this affront to our humanity. The kites will provide another iconic reminder of the beauty and potential of these children, despite the injustices they face," Gunness said in a statement released 24 hours before the attack.

Many other news agencies followed CNN’s footsteps while other pro-Israeli media outlets saw an opportunity to lash on Gaza and Hamas. On the other hand, all local and international human rights organizations in Gaza rushed to condemn the incident and “as usual” demanded actions, investigations and revelation.

Here is a background of similar incidents: It should be noted that during the summer of 2010, two attacks were launched on UNRWA summer camps by unknown persons. The first attack was launched on 23 May 2010 on a summer games camp on the beach in the west of Gaza City while the second attack was launched on 28 June 2010 on a camp in the west of Zawaida village in central Gaza Strip. No results of investigations were officially published with regard to these two attacks.

I am not here to join the others and play the blame game here, I am here to be the voice of the voiceless Gazan children.

I see that responsibility should be held to both Hamas (Hamas De Facto government has been ruling Gaza for several years now) and the UNRWA empire. These accidents happened before so I would expect from an organization such UNRWA to learn from it, and I would expect from a ruling political party like Hamas to learn from it also. They both failed to protect Gazan children and they both participated in lessening the “already” few places that Gazan children can have fun in and enjoy their summer.

Gaza is a small city yet neither Hamas nor the UNRWA could put their hands on the direction or people behind this yearly vandalism and I find that hard to believe, accept or swallow.

I have a question for the UNRWA: How come you spend millions on protecting all UNRWA foreign workers in Gaza and UNRWA’s visitors in Gaza by hiring body guards and shielded cars but you cant pay to ensure Gazan children’s safety? Why cant you spend some of the millions of donations that you collect to operate and place those camps on ensuring their safety by hiring body guards or security guards?

My second question goes to Hamas: How can you consider yourself as a strong political party that rules Gaza yet fails to protect its children? How can those anonymous masked men burn those camps down without being found or held or prosecuted? And how can It happen so many times?

During those past two years we have witnessed the burning of many newly built resorts in Gaza, and I cant understand how and why cant Hamas stop them? Or ensure that the streets of Gaza are safe?

Its one thing to speak and brag about security and it’s a totally different thing to enforce those brags by actions.

My third question goes to the Human Rights Organizations in Gaza: Why play the blame game when you should be raising questions and concerns about the safety of Gaza’s children? Why cant you see the real victims? And why focus the attention on UNRWA and Hamas instead of demanding more steps towards ensuring the safety of Gaza’s children?

At the end of the day, the only affected ones here are Gazan children. Their safety was threatened and they lost a place where they can spend a joyful summer. Yet UNRWA rushed to issue reports and collect donations, Hamas rushed to stress on the fact that it will do its best to catch those criminals and the local and international human rights organizations in Gaza rushed to play their blame game. My question is: Who will make it up for those children? Aren’t they the real victims here?

This act of vandalism for me represents two huge and major failures and ego blows to both Hamas and the UNRWA. I just pray they realize this fact and work better next year and care about those children rather than prioritizing their best and own interests.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A child that touches my heart deeply & profoundly

A picture that always overwhelms me
A Gazan child with tears in his little eyes

I havent written a new post in a while now, honestly I still feel like I don’t want to add any new posts but I am obliged to add something because I have a responsibility towards my readers, followers and those who trust me.

I started thinking of topics and I was lost between the new Palestinian scams: Electricity, reconciliation and Rafah border or maybe to write about all three of them or perhaps choose a new topic. I kept thinking for a few days till a few seconds ago I came across a picture that a facebook friend shared. I shared this picture many times before, I was pinned to my laptop looking at this pictures for days, thought about it for a loooooooooooong while and even cried my heart out whenever I saw it.

Honestly, this Gazan innocent cute little child is much more important than anything else. Yes, perhaps there are urgent matters that ought to be discusses and shared but despite the fact that this picture is 2 years old yet it still touch me and overwhelm me like it was taken yesterday.

You might expect me to say that this picture brought back the horror and miserable memories of the Israeli vicious barbaric assault on Gaza 2008-2009. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you but it doesn’t. It just makes me think of that child and what he felt at that moment seeing his safe home brought to the ground like it never existed, his childhood was violated, his family was shattered and all he can do to let his sadness and fear is to cry and shed those crystal-clear tears.

This picture arouses many feelings inside me, it makes me wish I was there to hug him and hold him and tell him everything will be okay. It makes me wish I was superman and had the ability to save him and his house and perhaps save Gaza. This child represents all Gazan children who lost their lives, parents, houses, families, dreams, souls and many other things in the process. Their only guilt was that they were born Palestinian and they live in Gaza. WOW I guess that makes them guilty right??!!!

If I could pay half of my life just to be able to go back in time and hug this child I swear I would in a heartbeat. Please cherish your children and work hard to give them the best life you could because some parents don’t even have this simple privilege.

If you are a parent, uncle, brother, sister, auntie, grandmother, grandfather or just a human then Please go hug the nearest child around you and let him\her know you are there to make their life better and safer.

Follow me on twitter: @Omar_Gaza