Farewell for now, my beloved Gaza

Today was the last day of my week in Gaza. During the time I spent there, I met a beautiful young boy from Khan Yunis named Raed. He lost his insides when he stepped outside his house during the hudna, or cease-fire on January 9th, 2009 – that Israel broke, and is now living with a plastic stomach. He also suffered injuries and is serious need of reconstructive surgery on his face and arm as well as mental health services, due to the trauma he is enduring until this day. There are hundreds like Raed, who have been injured and to this day, no one supports, or is providing care or treatment for. I also met with some of the families of martyrs of Cast Massacre, that are also left without any support or follow up to their trauma. Soon we will begin fundraising for each of their cases. Please let me know if you know of any donors, or foundations that might be able to give to the people of Gaza!


For now, farewell my beloved Gaza. The land of 1 million 600 thousand contradictions. So beautiful, kind & generous yet so tragically misunderstood. So strong yet vulnerable, so safe yet death lurks around each corner.. so used, abused, destroyed and discarded. Yet still you rise. Still you remain. May those outside someday get a chance to know and appreciate 1% of your infinite resilience, wisdom, creativity, hope, pride, patience, forgiveness, strength and most of all – humanity, and all you have sacrificed & endured, to make the world a better place.

Today is the big day for Egyptian elections, let’s hope that it soon becomes clear that the new President will refuse US tax dollars so that they can begin looking at the real interests of their people, rather than the Zionist interests the funding, arms and support go to uphold.

#UntilReturn

Finally made it! Update from Gaza :)

After 43 days of exile in AlArish, I finally made it to Gaza! I was given permission to enter for only three days, which incidentally are up, but thankfully received an extension. I was greeted by the friend and Hamas official that worked for weeks, and were the ones who made it possible for me to enter. I must first say that, without their help I would have never been able to get in. Secondly, neither of which knew me personally but were effected by my case, and felt it would be shameful to deny me as a Palestinian from the diaspora, entry into my historic homeland.

We have sat now for several hours together, and discussed the issues that prevented me from entering. The official allowed me to ask any and ALL questions I had relating, not only to my case, but to all the questions I had as to their governance etc. It turns out, as many conflicts do, that this was mainly an issue of misinformation and miscommunication. Long story short, a complicated series of events which snowballed, created a massive amount of mistrust, skepticism and uncertainty of intentions (from both sides) calling into question my character, and for me the character of the others.

Despite the hardship, difficulty and 43 days spent waiting to get it cleared up, I must say that I’m glad it all went down in the way it did and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could. Not only did I make amazing friends for life in Sinai, suffice it to say that for me, this chapter has shed light on and revealed much about people’s character’s, as well as what’s going on – internally here. It will obviously take time for me to fully understand on a personal and intimate level what is really going on. However one thing I learned is that I can not, and should not over simplify matters for the sake of convenience and expediency, or “being right”. One must take into account the entire picture, as well as the social, historical and political context before forming opinions, stating “facts” and/or jumping to conclusions.

I have been granted permission to stay on, indefinitely for now…and had a couple of excellent meetings which have given me the potential to stay on longer term..and includes potentially facilitating a shipment of prosthetic limbs for those injured during the Gaza massacre, i.e. Cast Lead – and also working with the families of the martyr’s. I will update this blog, as soon as I know more. I have a short window to make this all happen as my return ticket/date is at the end of this month.

Thanks again and eternal love, to all those who supported and assisted to make it possible for me to be here! You know who you are. 🙂

#ReturnRealized
Noura

UPDATE FROM EXILE

AY 27 – FROM EXILE IN AL-ARISH, SINAI

There are a few Hamas officials I’ve been in regular contact with and have been helpful in communicating and attempting to cooperate with me, so I can understand the reasons they forced me to leave. Like I said, it’s still unclear, but I appreciate their attempt to help me understand where they are coming from and help solve the problem.

The truth is, this is an illegal, immoral, unfair, unjust siege and there is absolutely no person or government that could do the right thing under such crippling international sanctions. That is not to justify *any* of their actions or policies..it’s only to state the obvious and try to get closer to the truth (whatever it may be). Also, after such a grueling and difficult month, it is really important and helpful for me to understand the process of which all of this has gone down, especially as it reflects the larger political context to which the current system exists.

After all the ups and downs of being able to enter then returned (twice now!) they have provided me with yet another ray of hope in saying that I WILL be able to enter Gaza soon. At this point, it’s hard to get my hopes up for anything..

INSHALLAH ya rub!
#UntilReturn

DAY 28

I was just informed that if I would like to enter a government guided tour and accommodations, would be provided – and was asked to pay for this a fee / undisclosed amount! Well, let’s just say that’s NOT gonna happen…lol

the saga continues!!! Grr :/

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE I WENT FOR THE MOST AMAZING SWIM IN THE MED WITH BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS TODAY :)) ♥ SINAI

Dream of Return Realized – then abrubtly come to an End!

I was able to enter Gaza, and was there for nearly three glorious days before Hamas forced me to leave again. My time there was truly better than I could have hoped for. During my few days there, I rented a rented a great flat (for the month) on the beautiful Mediterranean, saw dear old friends who’ve been locked in the prison that has become Gaza and not allowed to leave, met some amazing activists, went to an art and cultural center, where we told stories, drank tea and I was serenaded Fairouz. I also spent time in the too cool and delicious Mezage cafe. I also went to a restaurant opening named in honor of, and dedicated to the late, great, Italian activist Vittorio Arrogoni (who was as a matter of fact/coincidence, killed by Hamas affiliates last year):!

Then on the morning of the third day I got a troubled call from my “coordinator”, telling me there was “a problem”; to pack my bags and that I must leave immediately.

The reason for my forced departure, given by the officials who were apologetic and assured me it was nothing personal was, ‘for my safety’- and they blamed it on the Egyptian gov’t. Still it doesn’t fully make sense, and the real reason for Hamas returning me is confusing and complicated. To be honest, I’m not sure I understand what’s really going on..or why I was able to get in with their permission for 3 days, before they made me leave.

In fact, the completely arbitrary and confusing process reminded me so much of what it is like to attempt to enter Israel, which you must do if you want to travel to get to Palestinian territories. However, what has become clear, which wasn’t before – is that the Hamas officials, are working the in the exact same way as all the others who are responsible for creating and upholding the siege. Having taken its cues from ISRAEL, EGYPT, AND THE U.S.–NOW HAMAS seems perfectly happy to have cemented the siege – from all sides, and are profiting greatly from the tunnels arrangement, as a way to retain power and control the strip. Of course, all the while both their (Hamas in Gaza, and the PA in the West Bank) term’s have expired. They are both locked into this status quo – while carrying on about the need for a “unity” gov’t, which they are responsible for not resolving, while meanwhile using as justification not to allow for elections.

What also hit me like a slap in the face was the extent to which we have neglected to heed the call from activists in Gaza who have been speaking out against this corruption and rotten system. Those who dare open their mouths are left to be shot in the legs and imprisoned, where my journalist friend told me many have actually lost their minds due to physical and psychological torture Hamas imposed on them! Of course I completely support the campaign, and issues raised by the #PalHunger strikers. I also feel it is critical raise the issue of Palestinians imprisoned in Hamas jails. Incidentally, their is no way to know the true number that are rotting away, in Hamas dungeons–as I heard many of the families of these prisoners do not even know where their loved ones are!

And, tragically, this today is what has become of our beloved Gaza/Palestine..

So now, I am making the best of it and staying in the beautiful Sinai, in a small city called AlArish about 30 mins from the Rafah border – where I have been for the past month (sans 3 days) enjoying the fresh air of the Med, meeting many great people and learning a lot about Bedouin culture, which has been really amazing.

AND, thankfully, the day after I returned to Arish, this really STRONG and amazing protest took place! Of course, the Egyptian army wouldn’t let us get within 20 miles of it, but it made me feel much better…:D

“A radical Egyptian group on Wednesday plans to deface an IDF memorial in Sinai, painting it the colors of the Egyptian flag.A radical Egyptian group on Wednesday plans to deface an IDF memorial in Sinai, painting it the colors of the Egyptian flag. The memorial was set up about 40 years ago in memory of ten IDF soldiers killed in a helicopter crash, and according to the Camp David Accords, Egypt is committed to preserving and protecting the memorial – which they have done until now.

But given the recent tension in Sinai, including the numerous terrorist attacks and Grad rocket fire on Eilat emanating from the region, as well as the rise of the new radical Islamic government in Egypt, Israeli officials are very concerned that Egypt will allow the group to carry out its plan.”

Clearly, no need to worry Israel (for now!). Unfortunately, your precious rock is still now, as safe as ever due to your guardians-the Egyptian gov’t, who have shown that they are far more interested in upholding YOUR interests, rather than their own people’s.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/155120#.T5ngPtWndFR