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By Anna Lekas Miller
October 11th, 2012
Beit Ummar used to be known as the fruit basket of Palestine.
By Mina Remy
September 4th, 2012
Before I arrived at Grassroots International (nearly a year ago), I thought I understood the hardships imposed on Gaza. I knew about the imposed siege, had read and heard of the Turkish flotilla of 2010 and other humanitarian attempts to reach Gaza. I even knew about loss of acres of farmland, inadequate access to potable water, shortage of medicines, shortage of building materials, and periodic bombardment by the Israeli Defense Forces.
Today, a civil court in Israel issued a verdict in the 2003 death of Rachel Corrie. Judge Oded Gershon of Haifa District Court concluded that Rachel’s death was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army. Rachel, a nonviolent 23-year-old activist, was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while trying to physically protect Palestinian homes in the Gaza strip from destruction by Israeli Defense Forces.
Things are not going well for Caterpillar or Elbit Systems’ stocks.
The Separation Wall is now 10 years old. The Israeli government has not reversed course despite protests, a UN General Assembly resolution (ES-10/13), an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion, and almost unanimous international condemnation.
The day-to-day struggle in Palestine centers on access to and control of land and water. Not only are these vital resources critical to self-determination, but they are necessary for life. And in Gaza, the five-year Israeli-imposed blockade and unrepaired destruction from Operation Cast Lead have pushed the population into dangerous health and sanitary conditions.
Khaldeya Soboh first learned about the urban garden project in Gaza when she saw her neighbor’s garden filled with vegetables. Although she had a bit of land near her home for years, it sat idle. That’s when she began peppering them with questions, “Who runs the project? Where can I enroll? Is there training?”
Israeli military forces conducted an early morning raid of the Ramallah office of Stop the Wall, a civil society coalition organizing in opposition to the construction of the Separation Wall that Israel continues to build in the West Bank, and a Grassroots International partner.
The tiny motorboat’s engine coughs a couple of miles offshore and whirls to a stop. Gazing out over the aquamarine Mediterranean waters, I feel high from the fumes of cheap Egyptian diesel and the smell of sea salt. “Let’s get in,” says Mahfouz Kabariti, a fisherman, stripping down to swim trunks and diving overboard. A Palestinian friend who is a medical student also came along for the ride. We eye each other cautiously. She winks, and we both jump in the water, fully dressed, our long pants weighing us down. It’s a perfect Friday afternoon. From out here, the ubiquitous bullet holes in buildings are invisible and Gaza City looks like a coastal resort town.