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Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
By Mina Remy
January 22nd, 2014
The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) faced one of the worst winter storms seen in decades last month. The West Bank experienced record snow fall, which municipalities were ill-equipped to handle. While Gaza was spared much of the snow, the Strip received a devastating wintry mix of freezing rain, strong winds, and bitter cold that paralyzed an area considered a humanitarian crisis long before the storm.
By Jonathan Leaning
December 19th, 2013
This last year has seen many advances around the globe for communities and activists pushing to regain their fundamental human rights to land, water, and food. As we now approach the end of 2013, we take this opportunity a look back at some of the accomplishments that have marked the year. In spite of the great challenges—and seemingly insurmountable odds—there is much to celebrate. Below are some of many highlights from the last year.
Winning land for formerly landless farmers in Brazil
The $10-billion proposed canal would divert water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in an effort to save the later from “environmental degradation.” The project is a partnership between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Grassroots International partners the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Stop the Wall are among the signatories to the statement below that calls for a halt to the project. Palestinian organizations cite both political and environmental reasons for their calls to stop this water and land grab that would impede Palestinian rights.
Here in the office of Grassroots International hang many pictures of our partners from around the world. One we all love features a beautiful Palestinian girl proudly hugging a huge turnip grown in her family’s garden plot. In fact, we so appreciate the picture that we created a greeting card with her image and story, and many recipients have asked: “What happened to her? Where is she today?”
Here’s her story.
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories (oPt) has not only physically dominated the land that supports the Palestinian people but also the vital water resources that feed the land. The natural cycles and recharging of these important water resources have been altered by the systematic confiscation and control policies imposed by Israel that deny Palestinians’ right to the water resources in the oPt. Drought-induced water scarcity, poor sanitation conditions and low economic development further add to the hardship of water-starved Palestinians.
Four Years on from Operation Cast Lead: Worsening Impacts of Israeli Military Aggression on Community Agriculture in Gaza
Last week marked the 4th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s deadly 23-day military offensive launched in 2008, which resulted in the killing of 1,167 civilians and injury to 5,300 more in Gaza. It also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure in the already besieged Gaza Strip, which had been struggling under the Israeli blockade since 2007.
The toll Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud in Hebrew) is taking on Gaza’s population is unimaginable to most Americans, but Twitter is changing that. As information flows from Gaza City, Beit Hanoun, and Khan Younis the pain, suffering, and senseless death of innocent men, women, and children cannot be denied. More than half of the 105 Palestinians killed during the last seven days of this operation have been civilians, including children.
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.
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?”
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.