Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Pam Bailey

Pam Bailey is a writer, activist and founder of Istikame Communications

December 2nd, 2012 4:53 AM

A day in the sun for Gaza, or more of the same?

With the news that the UN General Assembly has voted 138-9 to accept Palestine as a “non-member observer state,” fireworks erupted and horns honked in Gaza. Finally, Palestinians were feeling as if they were having their day in the sun.

First, Israel ended its latest attack – which some believe should be re-named “Operation Pillar of Shame” – just eight days after it began, agreeing to a ceasefire that actually offered some concessions and to continue negotiating in the coming weeks.

And then, a Palestinian state received overwhelming recognition and acceptance from virtually the entire rest of the world, with the United States, Israel and Canada now clearly alone and anachronistic. Yes, the U.S. is still able to limit that status to a symbolic one, but the writing is on the wall.

The surprise dividend from these two victories – however small — is a spirit of genuine unity not seen for years between the once-warring political parties – with Fatah cheering on Hamas while it launched a surprisingly strong show of resistance against Israeli drones and F-16s, and Hamas dropping its opposition to Fatah’s bid for UN observer status.

A huge victory for Palestine, after a big victory for Gaza! We are all one..our time is now!” wrote one young Gazan on his Facebook wall.

Americans may be surprised to learn that Palestinians here in Gaza believe they scored a significant “win” in the most recent war with Israel. After all, the casualties were once again so very lopsided: 167 Palestinians killed and 1,269 wounded (more than three-quarters of whom were non-combatants), compared to 6 Israelis killed and 224 injured. However, the way Palestinians see it, this time – compared to the “massacre” of 2008/9 — they were able to fight back, surprising Israel and demonstrating that its aggression would come at a price.

“During the last assault (of 2008/9), we were very weak. We felt useless. When Israel finally ended its 22 days of slaughter, we got nothing but a ceasefire,” explains Shahd Abusalama, a university English student in Gaza, blogger and activist for political prisoners. “Now we are stronger. We still can’t compare to the fourth largest military in the world, but we were able to fight back more strongly this time.  It ended after eight days, and we got concessions in return. It wasn’t just on (Israeli) terms but on ours too.” (I will write more later on the growing conviction here that armed resistance is the only type of protest that actually produces some measure of results…)

One of the most dramatic concessions from Israel as a result of the agreement brokered by Egypt is greater access to the “buffer zone” along Gaza’s border with Israel. The 1.5-kilometer swath of land includes more than a third of the territory’s most fertile soil, and farmers have been unable to plant their crops there – forcing them to rely on charity and NGO handouts to support their extended families. Israel shot or burned the crops of those who ventured into this “no-go zone.”

On Nov. 30, however, a week and a half after the signing of the ceasefire, I found farmers in the border area in the Khan Younis district planting wheat, tending tomatoes and even partying with shisha within sight of the Israeli watch towers.  Abu Raeid Kudiyeh and his cousins, for example, own 40 dunums (9.8 acres) along the border, but hadn’t been able to farm it for seven years. Since the ceasefire, he now has cultivated his property up to 100 meters from the border fence – and would have gone further if soldiers in the watch tower hadn’t started firing warning shots.  [Abu Raeid invited me to walk with him towards the border fence on the evening I visited. We got within 40 meters or so before the Israelis began shooting – perhaps because of the presence of an international woman.]

The strawberry farmers of Beit Lahia in the north are even happier. They sent their first shipment of 20 tons of strawberries to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel today, on the way to Europe. And for the first time, they carry a “Palestine Crops” logo.

Despite this plucky spirit, however, the news is not all good. According to the Ma’an news service, two Palestinians have been killed and at least 40 injured after entering the buffer zone during the days after the ceasefire was announced on Nov. 21 – including one last night and two today. Hamas has shown admirable restraint, and rather than escalating the tit for tat, registered a complaint with its Egyptian interlocutors.

Fishermen are facing far greater challenges. Although Israel has reportedly agreed to allow boats to sail six miles out instead of just three, Ma’an reports more than 30 fishermen have been detained since the ceasefire, frequently confiscating their boats and/or equipment.  Some had (whether they admit it or not) attempted to sail beyond the new six-mile limit, protesting that they need to go out 12 miles to get to the good fish. Others insist they had complied with the new regulations, or say it is often hard to tell just where the new “border” lies.

Mahfouz Kabariti, coordinator of the Fishermen’s Solidarity Campaign in Gaza, thinks there are a few reasons why Israel is so intent on cracking down on fishermen: 1) It helps keep the Gaza Strip dependent on Israeli imports, including frozen and farm-raised fish; 2) Detained fishermen are a good source of intelligence if they “crack” under pressure; 3) It’s a form of collective punishment; and 4) An extensive offshore gas field was discovered in 2000, and Israel wants to retain control (although it is much further out than 12 miles).

What does all of this mean for the future? Tamer Mansour, senior editor at Al Arabiya in Gaza, says that Egypt continues to bring both Hamas and Israeli officials together in talks to focus on the tunnels, exports and further lifting of restrictions on movement. Egypt wants the tunnels closed, which would mean expanding the Rafah crossing to allow exports as well as human traffic. In fact, Ma’an reported yesterday that the Hamas-led government in Gaza will sign an agreement with Egypt next week for construction materials to enter via the Rafah crossing to help rebuild after the last Israeli assault.

That’s good news on the one hand. But on the other, Mansour says it strikes fear into his heart. He suspects that Israel’s grand strategy is to push Gaza closer and closer into Egypt’s arms, while doing the same between the West Bank and Jordan. The ultimate choice Palestinians may have to make is between greater self-sufficiency in the near future, and holding out for a united Palestine.

“That could mean we would lose a Palestinian state in the true sense of the word,” says Mansour. “This is the bad side of the story. For me, I refuse this. But will we have a choice?”

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles