GAZA Day 1: Breaking the siege

email sent Fri, Aug 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

These are my first lines to you from GAZA! I arrived 10:00 am (3 am Toronto time)

After spending a night in Jerusalem, I took a taxi to Erez crossing in the morning.. it basically looks from the out side like a huge prison with high concrete walls all around and iron bars and wires with every step of the way. It was just me and the soldiers there… so could not sneak a picture.

They checked my papers.. the permit that I got through Physician for Human Rights then I kept moving from one iron door to another till I got finally to a very looooong corridor surrounded by iron wires.. the end of that corridor took me out side the prison.

A small taxi ride to Hamas check point. I was soooo glad to see them. Very friendly men.. a mix of police men and taxi drivers, they were even more friendly when they found out that I am from Nablus and offered me coffee while checking my papers.

It was very interesting to hear them discuss the negotiations in Egypt and what do they expect from the resistance … they discussed the latest interview with Al-Jehad Al-Eslami leader on Al-Mayadeen.. some of them criticized the continuous renewal of the ceasefire. They were worried that Israel may get what they want i.e. ceasefire and back to status quo without lifting the siege. Others thought that the political leaders where doing good job in the negotiation using the resistance as their powerful card and telling Netanyahu .. this time is different.. its not your decision to stop the war. They all certainly do not want the resistance to stop till their demands are met.

After all done, took a taxi to Marna House, a little hotel next to Al-Shefa hospital. Shops were closed (Friday).. streets relatively empty. A lot of destroyed buildings.. the biggest pile of rubble was the Ministry of Finance and a factory for soap and cleaning products. The driver told me this is not where most of the destruction is.. he offered to take to Al-shjja3eiah and Khoza3a on another day.

Yes, the smell of sewage was in the air all the time but one thing caught my attention.. there was no garbage in the streets! I remembered Beirut during the 1982 invasion or after a week or two of fighting between different fractions when piles of garbage would be everywhere and one could hardly walk… not Gaza! I did not see a single pile! when I asked the driver about that, he said that garbage is collected all the time on carts pulled by donkeys and taken to disposal facility!! can you believe that! it was not long before I actually saw one of these carts in action.

Why am I here? Obviously as a doctor and can be very busy helping in the hospitals as they need me. But the main reason is to do need assessment.. Identify ON the Ground micro-projects that the people in Gaza urgently need and will have a quick and Long Term impact on their lives and then with your help make it efficiently happen. Billions of dollars were promised to Gaza.. some will reach the people and most wont.. these little projects will either be overlooked or take a long time to happen because of red tape and bureaucracy. So STAY Tuned we have a lot of work to do.

Last but not least .. it is very important for the people of Gaza to know that their fellow Palestinians in the diaspora did not and will not forget about them.. This is how we show the world that we are ALL Palestinians no matter where we are and we will not cease to exist.

Till my next email, warmest regards from Falasteen

Rand

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