[Ariadna: Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words but there are some pictures I cannot handle very well. In his blog Goon Squad, Greg Bacon makes a powerful case showing in graphic images the trail of blood and savage butchery left behind Israel’a advancement toward its goal: Eretz Israel. He calls them “zionists,” but since the demented dream of dominion at all cost over the “nations” is thousands of years older than the state of Israel, they can be called “Jews,” “real Jews”…]
by Greg Bacon
Can you tell which of these pictures of dead and horribly maimed bodies are from Yemen and which are from Gaza?
[Ariadna note: To see the images click here]
The first two pictures are from Bakha, Yemen and the last two from Gaza.
Yes, this is a pic of what used to be a human being, until Saudi money and SA fighter jets supplied by the USA and US bombs turned the person into pulp:
The Zionist and NeoCON butchers are having a wonderful time in Yemen, a little something to tide them over till the next Gaza slaughter.
One could post similar pics of horror from another Zionist Jew slaughterhouse, Syria.
Or from another Zionist Jew slaughterhouse, Iraq.
Or from another Zionist Jew butchery in Libya.
All of this misery and death in the ME is basically for the benefit of one nation, Israel.
Israel is the spoiled brat that usually gets what it wants and to hell with the consequences, let someone else pay the piper.
Israel wants to expand and create its dream of ‘Eretz Israel,’ which will stretch from the Rivers Tigris and Nile, to southern Turkey down to northern Arabia.
Paid for with western money and the blood of Middle East and African Muslims.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has announced it has obtained the funds to rebuild 1,1000 homes completely destroyed during Israel’s incursion on the Gaza Strip last summer.
UNRWA Spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told Anadolu news agency that: “UNRWA is working towards rebuilding what was destroyed during the most recent Israeli war and to obtain the necessary funding to rebuild homes that were completely destroyed.”
According to a statistical report prepared by UNRWA in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the number of housing units entirely destroyed in the war was 12,000, while the number of partially destroyed housing units was 160,000, 6,600 of which are currently inhabitable.
Arab and international countries pledged last October to donate nearly $5.4 billion in aid, half of which was allocated to the reconstruction of Gaza while the other half was allocated to other Palestinian needs. However, the reconstruction of Gaza is progressing very slowly because Israel has not allowed building materials to enter.
The seemingly eternal Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially in Gaza, which poses a continuous headache for the occupation, pushed the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to say in 1992, “I wish I could wake up one day and find that Gaza has sunk into the sea.”
However, the Gaza Strip did not sink into the sea and the situation is worse than it was during Rabin’s day, both for Israel and the Palestinians. Despite this, Rabin’s dream has been recalled by Palestinians on social networking sites since the Egyptian army began flooding the Gaza border with sea water.
Early on 11 September, the Egyptians started to pump large amounts of sea water into pipes that were extended across the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in an attempt to destroy the smuggling tunnels by flooding them. The Egyptian authorities began the move towards a tunnel-free zone along the border last October, specifically in the city of Rafah. The zone extends for two kilometres and was all done in the name of “combatting terrorism”.
The roots of the Gaza tragedy date back to before the creation of Israel in 1948, and the people of Gaza had no rights when they were under Egyptian sovereignty after that. At the time, the Strip was isolated from its Arab surroundings. This was followed by the June 1967 war, which caused more harm to the Gaza Strip and, of course, the territory has been isolated from the world for more than nine years as a result of the Israeli-imposed blockade. The Egyptians have played a role in this by frequent and lengthy closures of the only border crossing at Rafah.
The Israeli occupation tried to embrace the Palestinians in Gaza after the 1967 war and started to tempt them by supporting the local economy and linking it to Israel’s. The government published Arabic language books and distributed them in Gaza, and presented films translated into Arabic which tried to promote a connection between the people of Gaza and Israel.
Now, Gaza finds itself in a similar predicament being torn between Hamas and Fatah, with the political split dominating since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006. The Islamic movement itself is stuck between reconciliation efforts and the painfully slow reconstruction process following the destruction wrought by Israel’s three offensives against the enclave since 2008. There is a suffocating financial crisis and political isolation from the Arab world and international community, starting with Egypt, Gaza’s southern gateway and the mediator between Hamas and both Israel and Fatah.
“Contacts are underway with Cairo to halt pumping seawater into Rafah,” Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday, “as such measures are objectionable and pose a threat to groundwater as well as to a large number of homes on the Palestinian side.”
The Palestine Water Authority in the Gaza Strip made a statement on Saturday saying that the Egyptian army’s pumping of sea water is causing subsidence, subjecting “homes close to the area to danger.” It also noted that the sea water has caused an increase in the salinity of the soil, making it “unsuitable for agriculture.” The authority added that pumping water into canals along the border destroys Palestinian water and food security and “empties the area of its residents.”
Hamas gained an ally in Egypt by means of its support for the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood during and after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. This ally was lost when President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by a military coup in July 2013.
The economic and political damage caused by the deterioration of the relationship between Hamas and Egypt has since become more obvious. Campaigns were launched by the coup government to restrict the tunnel economy in Gaza; buffer zones were established; and severe restrictions were imposed on the borders. All of this combined to escalate the poor economic and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.
Despite Hamas’s rejection of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s policies, it was forced, given its geographical and political isolation, to address the leadership and intelligence agencies in Cairo and express the movement’s willingness to meet and discuss cooperation with regards to border security and the restoration of relations. This has been especially important since Egypt was the mediator between Hamas and the Israelis for the current ceasefire agreements agreed after Israel’s offensive last year.
Hamas has not only highlighted repeatedly its interest in restoring its relationship with Egypt, but also emphasised its common security fears and its commitment to crack down on Salafi jihadist organisations that are spreading systematically across the Sinai Peninsula and, in terms of ideology without an organisational structure, in the Gaza Strip.
Those observing the situation do not believe there are likely to be signs of change in Egypt’s policies any time soon, despite the fact that there are talks taking place under Saudi auspices in order to reduce the tension in the relationship. This is evidenced by the fact that the Rafah crossing was only open for 18 days between January and July this year. Although it was opened for four days in August, the small steps taken by the government in Cairo have not reached the level of it reconsidering its policy of isolating Gaza.
The mysterious disappearance of four Palestinians said to have been affiliated with Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in Sinai last month, has caused more distrust between the two sides. Hamas believes that this was an operation orchestrated by the Egyptian government. There has been no word yet on the fate of the four.
Translated from Al-Khaleej Online, 20 September 2015.
In an increasingly unusual scene, dozens of horse-riding fans have gathered in the east of Gaza City to watch what may well be only riding competition left in the whole Gaza Strip.
The fans start clapping and whistling when the horses and their riders arrive in the muddy, sandy arena, some distance away from the residential area.
The riders are keen to start the competition, even though they are not competing for a cup or a crown.
The only prize is that the winner is honoured as the best horse-rider, and when he takes part next week, the pride in his victory will still be with him. Winners work hard to retain their title as champion, and that’s it.
People in Gaza regard horse-riding as a traditional activity and the few riders left in Gaza are always busy. They are often invited to display their skills during wedding celebrations.
The groom who gets such a display is privileged and feels proud because his wedding has included an example of traditional Palestinian folklore.
Images by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad.
What was in it for Tony Blair when he conducted talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha?
Of all the bizarre encounters the Palestinian conflict has generated, Tony Blair’s four meetings in Doha with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal must surely rank as among the oddest.
Here was the Quartet’s Middle East envoy breaking the Quartet’s own rules about not talking to Hamas until it recognises Israel – rules that Blair and Jack Straw enforced as prime minister and foreign secretary by pressing the EU to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation. Two of the four meetings were held before Blair resigned as envoy.
Here was Blair, the man linked in mind, body and soul to the military coup in Egypt (he said the army intervened “at the will of the people” to bring democracy to Egypt) attempting to mediate between Hamas, Israel and Egypt – the two countries that have kept a stranglehold around Gaza’s neck. The Egyptian leader has been an even more zealous enforcer of the blockade than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a British context, Blair’s dialogue with Hamas took place as his supporters accused the left-wing candidate in the Labour leadership race, Jeremy Corbyn, of making Labour unelectable if he became leader. Corbyn had advocated talks with Hamas and Hezbollah – a crime of which the man who won power three times was a repeat offender.
Blair did not just talk to Meshaal. He invited him to London, offering him a specific date in June, on which the current prime minister, David Cameron, must have agreed. This is the same prime minister who has strived and failed, so far, to publish a report branding the Muslim Brotherhood presence in Britain as extremist. Bizarre.
And yet Blair kept going, even after the existence of the talks was revealed by Middle East Eye. In the last few days he has still been pushing the deal in Cairo. Why?
His motivation is not obvious. It is surely not out of any belated humanitarian concern for 1.8 million Gazans. As prime minister and peace envoy, Blair had provided Israel with valuable international cover for one operation in Gaza after another. Nor can it be out of any love for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. He regards Islamism as an ideological enemy. To borrow Peter Mandelson’s words, Blair is intensely relaxed about helping dictators with grievous human rights records, in the Emirates, Egypt and Kazakhstan, countries that share his conviction that Islamists must be wiped off the political map.
Blair told Hamas he had secured the agreement of three of the five potential partners to a deal that would open up Gaza’s borders in exchange for an unlimited ceasefire – the Saudis, Emiratis and Jordanians. But without Israel and Egypt, no deal could be said to exist.
After four meetings, Blair and Hamas discussed the possibility of continuing the ceasefire that is currently in place in exchange for an immediate opening of all borders and the immediate payment of the salaries of all government workers in Gaza. These two steps would be followed by talks about a seaport, an airport and the reconstruction of the enclave.
Everything else was off the table: Hamas did not agree, as Blair had been pressing them, to any form of words about political negotiations being the way forward, or anything that would reanimate an Oslo process now considered to be dead. Hamas would only agree to a continuation of the ceasefire, not a hudna with a minimum stated time limit. The ceasefire would only affect Gaza, not the West Bank, where Hamas said resistance against the settlers and the Israeli army would continue; the proposed deal would have had no bearing on a prisoner exchange.
Meshaal took a rain check on the offer of a trip to London. Hamas told Blair they would only take this process forward if it had the backing of Israel and Egypt. That Blair has failed to achieve, and the process is regarded to have reached a dead end, sources told MEE on Tuesday.
In Israel itself, the talks had its backers, mainly, although not exclusively, outside the government. The most notable convert was Naftali Bennett, the head of the far-right Jewish Home party and current education minister, who said a week after fighting began last summer: “The army can wipe out Hamas. We have a strong people which is telling the leadership: ‘Do whatever it takes to get it over with’.” Now, he has changed his tune. He told Channel 2 recently: “Egypt and the Palestinian Authority [PA] want things to be bad in Gaza so that we will continue fighting; it is good for them … But at this stage I am against it. The situation is that Hamas is there.”
There were others. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin; Yisrael Katz, the transportation and intelligence minister; Yuval Diskin, the former head of Shin Bet; Shaul Mofaz, former defence minister; Yair Naveh, the former deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army; and Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad, have all expressed support for talks with Hamas, direct or indirect.
Netanyahu and the government itself remain staunchly opposed. This can either be because Netanyahu cannot accept a deal in which Hamas remains as an active combatant in the West Bank, or because he never intended to reach a deal in the first place. The process of reaching a deal with Hamas was always going to be more inviting to him than the result. The process would mean Hamas having an incentive to keep things quiet, and Netanyahu also would be responding to pressure from citizens in southern Israel. The result would mean abandoning a policy to isolate and weaken Hamas, of which he has been one of the most effective enforcers.
On this, Netanyahu cannot be accused of inconsistency. He makes no distinction here between which brand of Palestinian leader he is dealing with – one who recognises Israel or one who does not. Netanyahu’s record on the national issue is clear: talks never reach a conclusion. They are never anything more than a way of buying time.
He is not alone. If a deal were to be secured that allowed Hamas’s 50,000 government workers to be paid, it would be over Mahmoud Abbas’s dead body. As the International Crisis Group argues in its latest report, the PA has much to lose from ending the blockade and little to gain.
Since mid-2013 when nearly all the tunnels under the Rafah border with Egypt were closed, the PA’s revenue that Israel collects on goods going into Gaza on its behalf has greatly increased. The report quotes a minister in the national consensus government – appointed by Fatah and involved in Gaza’s reconstruction – who attributes primary responsibility for the stasis to the Palestinian president’s office, which, he said, “has no intention of rebuilding Gaza or taking responsibility for it”.
The signals from Egypt are just as bleak. In June, the head of the Egyptian intelligence was all smiles as he met a delegation from Hamas, and the Rafah border remained open for that week. That was before the attack on 1 July by Sinai fighters, for which Egypt blamed Hamas. The latest signal was the abduction of four members of Hamas’ al-Qassam brigades travelling through North Sinai, which Hamas blames on the Egyptian military – not the Islamic State (IS) group.
Who gains from this brief interlude of talks? Obviously, the Quartet’s conditions for excluding Hamas from negotiations have now been breached, as has the EU declaration on Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Blair irritated the Swiss, who see themselves as the chief conduit for negotiations with Hamas, even more than he did Mahmoud Abbas.
However it styled its war on Gaza last year, the Blair talks are a sign that Israel does not want to repeat the experience, at least any time soon. Hamas has become the address to go to in Gaza, and preferable to any available alternative, certainly preferable to the chaos of militias competing with each other to fire rockets off at Israel and the prospect that one day IS could inherit Hamas’ mantle. Exiled Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan’s efforts to buy himself back into favour in Gaza by funding weddings has largely been at Abbas’s expense.
For Netanyahu, Blair may have been useful in testing the waters, but it looks as if he has reached his limits as a go-between. For Egypt, the opening of the Rafah border would mean surrendering its chief foreign policy card. There are no signs it is prepared to do this.
Which brings us back to Blair. What was in it for him? This has everyone scratching their heads. But there are some clues.
Last year months before the start of the Doha talks, an academic with access to Khaled Meshaal was approached by Israelis at a conference in Europe. They wanted him to pass on a specific request. If British Gas developed the gas field in Gaza Marine, (a field between 27 and 33 km off the coast of Gaza thought to contain a trillion cubic feet of gas) would Hamas attack it? The academic wanted to know who was asking the question – the Israeli government? No, the reply came: “It was Tony Blair.” The academic refused to pass the message on and told them Tony Blair should contact Meshaal himself.
How curious. Blair privately claims he got involved in the talks at Hamas’ request – as a result of a letter Hamas sent to UN peace process envoy Robert Serry. But his interest in the gas off Gaza’s coast predates that. British Gas Group are clients of JP Morgan, for which Blair was paid as a senior advisor.
This field is, in the words of the Foreign Office, by far the most valuable Palestinian natural resource. Revenues from its output were estimated in 2007 to be worth $4bn. Ariel Sharon was always against its development, and when he pulled out of Gaza, British Gas signed a memorandum with the Egyptian company Egas to sell it there in 2005.
The deal was cancelled a year later when Blair intervened at the behest of then-Israeli premier Ehud Olmert. Thirty times as much has now been discovered in a field off Egypt. Who knows what the fields of Gaza could contain. No conflict? Plenty of interest.
David Hearst is editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He was chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian, former Associate Foreign Editor, European Editor, Moscow Bureau Chief, European Correspondent, and Ireland Correspondent. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.
A hard-hitting new United Nations report says Gaza could become uninhabitable in less than five years if current economic and population trends continue.
It cites what it describes as the “de-development” of the blockaded coastal strip, which is at present home to some 1.8 million Palestinians but is expected to grow to 2.1 million by 2020.
“De-development” describes a process where development is not only hindered but actually reversed. Findings by the UN conference on trade and development point to the eight-year economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians over the past six years.
Comment: De-development? More like Ethnic cleansing before your eyes – Israel’s incremental genocide
Depicting the situation in Gaza in grim language the report states: “Three Israeli military operations in the past six years, in addition to eight years of economic blockade, have ravaged the already debilitated infrastructure of Gaza, shattered its productive base, left no time for meaningful reconstruction or economic recovery and impoverished the Palestinian population in Gaza, rendering their economic wellbeing worse than the level of two decades previous.
“The most recent military operation compounded already dire socioeconomic conditions and accelerated de-development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a process by which development is not merely hindered but reversed.”
The report was published even as Egyptian military bulldozers continued to press ahead with a project that will effectively fill Egypt’s Gaza Strip border with water and flood the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels that have brought both commercial items and weapons into Gaza.
It also follows a series of recent dire warnings over Gaza’s trajectory by international bodies including UN organisations.
In May the World Bank said the long-lasting blockades by Israel and more recently Egypt, combined with war and poor governance, had strangled Gaza’s economy leaving it with the highest unemployment rate in the world at 43% of the population.
The latest report reinforces similar warnings delivered by the top officials in the main UN relief agency in Gaza – UNRWA – in 2012, which projected that on current trends of population growth Gaza would hit a crisis point in 2020.
The latest report highlights the severe crises in Gaza related to water and electricity, as well as the destruction of vital infrastructure during Israeli military operations in July and August 2014.
Citing the reliance of Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants on coastal aquifers as their main source of freshwater, it adds that 95% of this water is not safe to drink. The report also cites growing food insecurity affecting 72% of households, with half the population of Gaza receiving some food aid.
The report estimates that direct losses (excluding people killed) of three Israeli military operations that took place from 2008 to 2014 are equal to three times the size of Gaza’s local gross domestic product.
The 2014 war displaced half a million people and left parts of Gaza destroyed.
The report adds that recent wars had “effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid”, the new report says.
The wars had shattered Gaza’s ability to export and produce for the domestic market and left no time for reconstruction, the report said.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.
The report calls the economic prospects for 2015 for the Palestinian territories”bleak” because of the unstable political situation, reduced aid and the slow pace of reconstruction.
The latest bleak warnings over Gaza have emerged as the Egyptian military has pressed ahead with its efforts to shut down the last smuggling tunnels into Gaza by constructing an extensive area of military-run fish-farms along the Gaza border that would flood any tunnels.
Egypt’s army began digging last week what anonymous officials have said will be 18 fisheries along the nine-mile Gaza border whose effect would be to prevent tunnel digging. According to reports a previous plan to dig a canal was rejected after it became clear the water would flood the border completely.
The Gaza Strip is a tiny patch of land – just 362 square kilometres (225 square miles) – that is currently home to around 1.8 million Palestinians. It has one of the highest population densities in the world, and the figure is increasing all the time. The population is expected to grow to 2.1 million by 2020.
Sandwiched between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, over the last decade Gaza has been ravaged by multiple wars and a continued economic blockade. This has had major consequences. A new report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development warns that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current economic and population trends continue.
The report cites the “de-development” of Gaza. This term is fairly self-explanatory. It describes a process where development is actively reversed, rather than just failing to move forward. This is the result of the eight-year blockade by Israel and Egypt which began after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, but is also caused by the three wars which Israel has waged on the enclaved over the last six years. The two feed into each other; the blockade prevents essential building materials from getting through in order to complete post-conflict reconstruction.
The report notes that the blockade has “ravaged the already debilitated infrastructure of Gaza, shattered its productive base, left no time for meaningful reconstruction or economic recovery and impoverished the Palestinian population in Gaza, rendering their economic wellbeing worse than the level of two decades previous.” Poor governance by the Hamas administration is highlighted as another major problem for the economy.
The most recent war in the summer of 2014 has had a profound effect. The Israeli offensive in Gaza left more than 2,260 Palestinians dead, more than 11,000 injured, and around 500,000 displaced. Of those, 100,000 people are still homeless. More than 18,000 buildings – including homes, hospitals and other facilities – were destroyed. Infrastructure suffered severely: up to 247 factories and 300 commercial centres were fully or partially destroyed. Gaza’s only power station sustained severe damage. Overall, the territory’s GDP dropped by 15 per cent in 2014, and unemployment reached a record high of 44 per cent; the highest rate of anywhere in the world.
This was not an economy that was equipped to cope with such wide scale destruction; the war compounded an already dire socio-economic situation. According to the report, the 2014 war “effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid.” Today, 72 per cent of households in Gaza are food insecure. Less than two per cent of the building materials required for reconstruction have been allowed into Gaza since the war ended over a year ago.
This is not the first time that the UN has highlighted the process of de-development in Gaza. The issue has come up after all three of the wars on Gaza over the last six years. Notably, in 2012, UNRWA warned that Gaza would become unliveable by 2020, citing limits in the supply of water and electricity. This week’s report, issuing the same hopeless forecast, follows warnings by other international institutions. In May, the World Bank said that the Israeli and Egyptian blockades, in conjunction with war and poor governance, were strangling Gaza’s economy.
The problems then are well documented. But what can be done? The report notes that aid from international donors remains essential, but is not the answer: “Short of ending the blockade, donor aid… will not reverse the ongoing de-development and impoverishment in Gaza.” Yet there is little, if any, meaningful international pressure on Israel or Egypt to end the blockade. The report was published as Egyptian military bulldozers pressed ahead with a project that would fill Egypt’s border with Gaza with water, in order to flood the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels. Egypt had already blown up many of these tunnels, which are used to transport weapons – but also commercial items and basic supplies. They were the Gaza Strip’s lifeline.
There is no evidence for the efficacy of the blockade. Earlier this month, a report by the International Crisis Group argued that “the policies of isolating Hamas and blockading Gaza have neither brought a political settlement closer nor dislodged Hamas. There is no reason to believe that their continuation will do so.”
Multiple reports have highlighted the growing emergency in Gaza, yet the day-to-day realities continue to worsen. Per capita income is now 31 per cent lower than it was in 1994, the year that Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo agreement. Today, conditions in Gaza are the worst since Israel first occupied it in 1967. That the situation for the citizens of Gaza is dire is not up for debate. The question now is what can be done about it.
In one of the wedding halls in the Gaza Strip, bride Salwa Reziq is sitting alone on stage her groom is nowhere to be seen, he works in Qatar and, because of the ongoing blockade on the Strip, is unable to attend his wedding.
Everything in the wedding hall seems ideal except Salwa, 24, who is sitting without her groom, Khalid Reziq, 29, who is watching the wedding via Skype.
Salwa has been engaged to her cousin Khalid for one year, awaiting his return to Gaza, however, she lost hope and decided to organise the wedding alone and then travel to Khalid when the crossings are open.
“I feel sad for marrying my daughter off to her cousin without his attendance,” mother of the bride Sameera, 49, said. “We waited for him to come back for a long time, but in the end, we decided to take this decision.”
Such wedding celebrations have become common in Gaza due to the almost continuous closure of the Rafah Crossing, which is the main terminal for the more than 1.8 million Gazans to the outside world.
Egypt closed the crossing in July 2013 when General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi carried out a military coup against the first-freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. It is now only open sporadically.
Rana Yaghi, 25, said she was forced to organise her wedding knowing her husband would be unable to attend as he works in Saudi Arabia.
“It is shocking and saddening when the wedding ends and you go to your father’s home again, not to your husband’s home,” Yaghi said. “We waited for one year and then decided to take this decision. The siege causes much trouble for us.”
Huda Faris, 23, said she couldn’t fully enjoy her wedding because her parents, who live in Kuwait, were unable to attend. “I had never imagined I’d get married without my parents being present, without holding my father’s hand,” she said.
“We waited and waited, but decided to organise the wedding without them,” she added. “My brothers attended my wedding, but that was not the ideal wedding I had planned for.”
Thousands of Palestinians have been living in diaspora for decades. Huda’s father is working in Kuwait and could only watch the wedding party via Skype. “It was not like a wedding party,” she said, “it was like a conference to exchange old memories when we were together.”
Sheikh Hassan Al-Jojo, head of the Sharia Court which registers marriages and divorces in Gaza, said that many engagements are being broken off because of the difficulties couples face in uniting and crossing the border.
Israel has imposed sever restrictions on the movement of Gazans since 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian general elections.
Since then, Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah Crossing.
Egypt’s military will flood the area along the border with Gaza with water, in a new bid to destroy underground tunnels between Sinai and the Palestinian territory, a Palestinian security source told Anadolu Agency.
“The Egyptian army has begun to build huge pipelines along the border with the Gaza Strip,” the source said.
He said the project “aims to destroy underground tunnels by filling the area with water.”
There was no comment from Egyptian authorities on the report.
Blockaded by Israel since 2007, Gaza used to receive much-needed supplies through the network of smuggling tunnels on its border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Since the 2013 military coup against President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian authorities have cracked down on the smuggling tunnels along the border with Gaza.
Egypt claims the tunnels are used in militant activities inside Sinai.
Last year, Egyptian authorities began to establish a buffer zone in North Sinai’s city of Rafah along the border with Gaza following a spate of militant attacks against army and security forces.