Kulna Gaza - We Are All Gazans

Vera Macht

As we speak, Gaza is being bombed. As we speak, innocent people are dying. Fifteen people have been killed so far, and no end in sight.

Tomorrow the foreigners will be evacuated, Israel threatens with a "massive military attack", a "ground invasion" is not ruled out. Fifteen killed people, including two children. I can give their names, Malek, two years old, and Mahmoud, thirteen years. I can tell how Mahmoud's teacher has described him as an intelligent, bright student, or I can show photos of the two.

As if that would create an outcry , as if the Western media would care enough for the lives of Palestinian children. No, [it's] "Israel was attacked" and "Israel must defend itself."

Neither the circumstances, let alone the actual perpetrators of the attack on Israel have been identified so far, every Palestinian military faction has denied any involvement in it. But Gaza is blamed, as Gaza is always to be blamed for, Gaza must be punished, Gazan blood must flow so that the murder on Israelis will be avenged.

How much blood must still flow, you Israeli generals? How many Mahmouds and Maleks will have to die, how many women and children will have to be injured and killed? The signs suggest that it will still be many. And the signs suggest that the world is going to accept it. That it will accept that innocent people are being killed who had nothing but nothing to do with the attack on Israel.

But of course Palestinians must be "punished", simply because they are Palestinians.


Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

It always seems impossible until it's done ~ Nelson Mandela

Thursday evening I got the call. From Inge, my ISM colleague, who is still in Gaza. "Nasser's house was bombed," she just said. "The paramedics are evacuating the family now. I'll keep you updated.” It took about an hour before I knew that all are alive. One hour, in which the images were passing behind my eyes, the days we spent purchasing all vital things for the family, the bright eyes of the children, when they saw their new stuff, the hope we were able to give all of them. We, and all of you who have donated. The hope that Nasser's family equally gave to all of us. Hope that also at a place like Gaza, a place where misery is found everywhere you turn, that also there there is something you can make okay. "I have never seen them so happy", Inge had told me in our last conversation, when I asked her about the children. "They played outside, and looked forward to the new house. "Gaza is not the place for happy endings", I was once told by a friend from Gaza. Gaza is no place for happy endings, I had this sentence in my ears when I got the terrible news. Nasser's house was bombed. Four times. Four whole times. Everyone has survived, Inge told me after an eternal seeming hour, but little Maisa, 5 years old, and Ala, 10 years, had been buried under the rubble of the house. And with them everything we all had worked for for the past few months. For psychological support, the processing of the death of the mother, a stable livelihood, and above all – for a feeling of security. A little bit of childhood and joy amidst this hostile place. "Maisa was brave", said Inge. The small Maisa is always brave, and in her 5 years she has been through things you can’t get through at any age. Ala was in shock. Four bombs on a family house that is well known to the Israeli military. Such a blatant cruelty turns any sense of right and wrong in pain. Gaza is no place for a happy ending.

But all survived. Traumatized all over again, with a destroyed house, destroyed belongings, but all survived. And that means to look forward, over and over again. Gaza is not the place for a happy ending, we cannot and we aren’t allowed to give in to that. The psychological care will continue. We will build a new house, as planned. We will create a little happy end, also and especially in Gaza.

Vik, You Are missed

Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

You are missed with such an intensity that makes you even more present. In all of our minds, in all of our hearts. It's your absence that makes your strength, your kindness and your impressive dedication to people and to humanity so incredibly present.

You are missed as a symbol of the struggle for justice, and for the value of each individual, the value of especially those people who seem to have been forgotten.

You are missed in this world. Vik, I miss you in my world. I miss you as my best friend, as the one who was always there in the last year, in good and bad times. You once told me I should smile, because my smile would light you. But Vik, it was you who made me laugh. Not only by your great sense of humor, but through your unique way to make the world around you a little brighter, just by being there. Everybody who knew you knows that, even those who met you even just once.

You cast a spell on people, through your charisma, through your personality, through your warmth. The world has become a bit darker without you, and it is also my own little world that has become a bit darker through your absence.

And Gaza of course, which I can’t imagine without you, probably no one here can imagine it without you yet. Your Arabic vocabulary of: Mushkile? Leeesh? Mish Mushkile! Yallah! was completely enough to brighten up the people around you, and to make everyone in Gaza your rafiq and your rafiqa.


Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

Government measures on the sea, even if they are illegal, are not an act of piracy, according to international law. The actions of the Israeli military are not likely to have been considered in the implementation of this law. The cousins Mustafa, 42, Mahmoud, 30, and Hjazi ElLaham, 27, were on the morning of the 19th February 2011, like every morning, fishing with their boat off the coast of Gaza. They were in the same area in which they are always located, 2.5 nautical miles from the coast, well inside the allowed zone. The Oslo agreement had assured the fishermen of Gaza bilaterally 20 nautical miles of fishing. Israel later unilaterally reduced this distance to 6 miles, and since the blockade was declared the fishermen are only allowed to fish within 3 nautical miles.

It was a stormy day, the cousins were almost alone on the sea. While the other fishermen had stayed at home because of the weather, the three couldn’t afford to lose a day of work. They were just pulling in their net, when an Israeli warship approached. The soldiers on the ship began to shoot at their net. The three fishermen began to work faster, they couldn’t risk to lose their net, and started the engine. Until then, it was an ordinary day. "We are shot at by Israeli warships almost daily," says Mustafa, the eldest, “we are used to that.” Then they were ordered over loudspeakers to stop the engine, or the soldiers would shoot the captain's hand. The three stopped the boat and pulled the motor out of the water. The Israeli warship began to circle around the small boat, so fast that they generated waves that made the fishing boat almost capsize.


Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

[A Palestinian gravel worker was killed in the north of Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon (February 28) while he was collecting gravel. Adham Abu Salmiya, spokesman for medical services, reported that Omar Maruf, 19, was hit in his abdomen by an Israeli bullet and was killed instantly. Palestinian Ministry of Interior]

This article is about Omar Maruf. What makes this one so important when every day dozens of innocent people die all over the world? Why an article about this one?

Omar Maruf was killed by a soldier who was heavily armed, and well equipped with everything the latest Western military industry has to offer. Omar was wearing old, dirty clothes, and collecting stones with his donkey. Omar was not even a so-called "collateral damage" who was unfortunately hit by a misguided bullet or bomb during a military attack. In our modern wars, where everything is precisely calculated, sometimes someone is just at the wrong time at the wrong place. But it wasn’t like that. No, a young soldier, heavily armed and well equipped, targeted Omar, who was standing there, with shabby clothes and stones in his hands, and decided to shoot him. A young soldier on a sunny winter morning felt the need to kill a man his same age who he probably considered as not so important. He knew that this act would never have any consequences. That he wouldn’t have to justify that deed to anyone. Because it was a Palestinian who has no rights, whose life doesn’t count.

This article is about Omar Maruf, because his life does count. Because his death deserves outrage and a demand for justice. Because I've looked into the silent faces of Omar’s grieving brothers, because I have listened to his cousins, who spoke all the more, out of anger and helplessness. How can you just murder a young man, they asked me. How it is possible that the Israeli soldier will not be sued, that there is no justice, that no one cares? Why you can just kill people like us, why you can just shoot Palestinians? Why does no one do anything? Why no government in the world is helping us, when the Israeli government believes that international law does not apply for them?


Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

It’s stormy, the wind is whipping through the trees, and scattered rain drops hit us in the face as we go down the muddy dirt road to Nasser's house. It’s a few hundred yards from the couple of houses around the cemetery, which form the village of Juhor al-Dik, to his small house near the border. "Goodbye," shouted the driver who will pick us up from this remote area again, and with a look at the path we chose he added laughingly: "Insha Allah - God willing."

But even under these circumstances, and even in this weather you cannot help but noticing how beautiful this area must have been, and actually still is, in spite of everything. While almost every other place in Gaza is loud and overcrowded, here's open land and soothing silence. There are a few olive trees that have survived the uncountable tank invasions, and a few new minor ones planted bravely. In between there’s the lush green grass from the winter rain. At least where it wasn’t again plowed up by Israeli bulldozers. And just as we talk about how peaceful this place actually is, we become suddenly aware of this calm being deceptive. On the other side of the barbed wire border, a jeep of the Israeli military appears. He stops as he sees us. My two colleagues and I exchange anxious glances, and without a word we open our hair and begin to inconspicuously walk in front of our Palestinian translator. What kind of a world is that in which blonde hair is a lifesaver.

The jeep drives on, we breathe a sigh of relief. I cannot even imagine how it is to know one’s children are in this danger every day.


Gilad Atzmon
Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

Gilad Atzmon: In the last month I circulated some invaluable reports by Vera Macht, an ISM (International Solidarity Movement) activist operating in Gaza.

My friend Gabi Weber decided to launch an urgent appeal for Vera Macht and ISM in Gaza.

Gabi writes, “These young activists who work with the ISM in Gaza, do it on a voluntary basis. They do not earn a single penny. In fact most of their activity is financed by themselves. At the moment there is no money left for urgent medical treatment.

The work of these young ISM activists is admirable and should be supported by every humanist. Day by day they witness horrific crimes committed by the Israeli army. The least we can do, is help them financially.

In the following you’ll find data from Vera´s bank account in Germany. We decided to collect all the money on this account and then transfer it to Gaza. This will be less expensive.

Jazza production also lends its PayPal account for the cause. In the next month (until March 15th 2011) money that will be channeled to Jazza Production’s PayPal will be sent to Vera Macht and the ISM in Gaza.

Please spread this appeal widely, so we’ll have the chance to help Vera and the ISM.



Gabi Weber, Freiburg, South Germany

The West and the revolution

Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

Vera Macht Reporting From Gaza

We in the West, we like to have the feeling that we have the Arab world under control. The states there are strategically important, full of oil, and the people strange, in what is for us a disturbing way. But they are hopefully largely under control by dictatorial regimes and the political or sometimes military interventions of the West. The Western discourse revolves around the question of whether Islam is at all compatible with democracy, and thus whether Arab Muslim immigrants can be integrated into European societies.

But now this through oppression installed stability has started to crumble in the Arab world. In Tunisia, the dictator has already fallen, in Egypt the 30 years old chair of Mubarak is broken, and other dictators in the Arab world have started to feel uneasy. But it is not the salvation and democracy bringing West which has brought this development to roll, no, it wasn’t even able to predict it, so that at first no Western politician was really sure how to react.

It was the people of those countries themselves who had enough of oppression, poverty and dictatorships. The millions of people who flocked to the streets are the same ones whose religion and mentality seemed contrary to the human and civil rights of a free political system. Millions of Egyptians have been persevering in liberation square for over two weeks, united in the fight for freedom, democracy and justice in their country. The only perhaps democracy compatible Arab Muslims risked their lives for a new democratic system, the revolution has cost hundreds of lives so far. Muslims form human chains for praying Christians to protect them as human shields from harassment.

Amjad – The Latest Victim in the Gaza Buffer Zone

Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

Vera Macht Reporting From Gaza

It took eight days. Eight days since the last innocent was killed. You watch people die here one after another, getting killed one by one, without consequences, without justice, without an outcry in the media. Innocent people who have never done anything wrong in their lives other than try to make a living from something amidst the stifling four year siege. Civilians. Palestinian civilians, whose life doesn’t seem to be worth more than an entry in the statistics. And you feel like your hands are tied. “So that’s what I can do: register it in my notebook. It is registered, and there is an empty line after Shaban’s name. That is for those who they kill tomorrow”, wrote the American writer Max Ajl after the farmer Shaban Karmout was killed. It took eight days, and the place was filled. Amjad ElZaaneen, was 17 years when he was killed today. Too young, too early, too meaningless, too many names in all of our laptops.

Amjad collected stones that morning, on the 01/18/2011, as on every morning, with his three cousins and his brother, the youngest of whom was eleven. Five boys, children, with a horse and a cart full of stones, about 300m from the border with Israel, and near to the village of Bait Hanoun. They had just loaded their cart full as they saw Israeli tanks and bulldozers coming to invade the land, why, who knows. A group of resistance fighters approached the area, including fighters from PFLP, the Communist Party, to fight them out again, to prevent them from again uprooting the land. A more symbolic act, the country was destroyed hundreds of times before, by tanks and bulldozers, one more time, what difference does it make. Amjad and the others ran for their lives, successfully, they arrived safely at home.

But the horse was still there, after all, and all the stones they had collected with difficulty, for which they had risked their lives to have some income that day, and for the next one maybe, who knows whether the situation then wouldn’t be even more dangerous. So they returned, as they thought the situation had calmed down, and the tanks and bulldozers had withdrawn from Gaza's land, after they had flattened it one more time, why, who knows. But when they arrived at their horse, and just wanted to take it back home, Israeli soldiers fired a shell at them, and Sharaf Raafat Shada, 19, was hit by a piece of shrapnel in the chest. Amjad, the oldest, tried to pull him away, to lay him on the cart to somehow take him to the hospital, but Sharaf was too heavy for him. So Amjad made the decision to try to reach Bait Hanoun in order to get help. He hadn’t gone far when a shell directly hit him into his belly, leaving a wound so large that he bled to death within minutes.

Report from Gaza: Life and Death in the Buffer Zone

Vera Macht
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

Death comes quickly at a place like this. On sunny winter days, when the smell of the night’s rain is still in the air, as if it would have brought some hope for the raped, barren land of Gaza, overrun hundreds of times by Israeli tanks and bulldozers. The land between the foothills of the village of Bait Hanoun and the Israeli border, guarded by watchtowers, soldiers, snipers, helicopters and drones. A land in which death is a regular guest. But despite all that, the 65-year-old Shaban Karmout probably had something like hope when he woke up on that winter morning. His house is in exactly this 300 meter wide strip of land in the so-called buffer zone. He has built his house 40 years ago, in 1971, when Gaza was already occupied by Israel, and yet he had thought to have a future there for himself and his family. Shaban began to plant fruits, his land was full of palms and trees, lemon, orange, clementine and almond trees were growing there. He had a good life.

But in 2003, just at the time of the almond harvest, the Israeli bulldozers came in the middle of the night. It took them three hours to raze the work of 30 years to the ground. Since the Israeli attack in 2009, he could no longer live there, too dangerous had the buffer zone become, where his home was, which has now been declared a closed combat zone by Israel. He had since lived in a rented small concrete house in the middle of the refugee camp near Bait Hanoun, in Jabalia, cramped in a tiny room with his large family. But he went back to his land, every morning, and worked there until the evening. He and his family had to make a living from something, after all. And so this morning, in the morning of the 10th January 2011, he woke up with hope, around 4 o’clock, and left for his fields. Full of hope he was because he and his neighbors had recently received a new well, their old one had been destroyed by an Israeli tank incursion. The Italian NGO GVC had built up the well, it was financed by the Italian government.

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