Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
By Shadia Lahlou
January 7th, 2013
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
By Sara Mersha
January 2nd, 2013
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.
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.
Waiting for my visa interview on a dusty embroidered couch at the Afghan Embassy in Cairo, minutes turned into hours. I had recently decided to spend International Women’s Day in the countryside outside of Kabul, to learn from women there as they work towards a better Afghanistan. My mind wandered as I prepared for the journey, and I found myself reflecting on the meaning of a day set aside to celebrate women. Memories drifted through the past few years where I had spent International Women’s Day with Grassroots International’s partners in Palestine and Haiti. Years apart and worlds away, the experiences were bound by song.
Gaza Strip, 2009
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) was established in 1983 and has become a leading non-governmental organization in the fields of rural development, environmental protection and women’s empowerment. They work with more than 160,000 rural and marginalized Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. PARC promotes sustainable development and aims to build greater food security at the household, community and territorial levels.
Three years ago today, on December 27, 2008, the Israeli Defense Force launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The offensive left a trail of death and destruction in its wake, including hundreds dead, thousands displaced, and nearly the entire 1.5 million-person population traumatized and hungry. In the years since the bombing stopped and tanks rolled through agricultural fields, recovery has been slow.