Saturday, April 4, 2009

Handala - The 10-year-old child

Resistance and rebellion usually occurs because someone somewhere is resisting something. People who resist simply do not want to be exploited and do not want their human rights and freedoms violated. It is when this resistance grows and festers that organization of individuals is possible.

In Palestine/Israel people are resisting because they feel that their human rights and freedoms are being violated and thus have began forming several personal organization. The majority of the peace organizations that stem out of Palestine and throughout the world put forth the value that people should stand united to defend human rights and freedoms. These organizations have grown so large that now thousands of people throughout the world try to stand in unity for those people living in Palestine/Israel who suffer every single day.

One organization in specific which has gained a lot of momentum and popularity within the past couple of years is the Palestinian cartoon character, Handala.

Naji Al-Ali started off by drawing cartoon comics that appeared in the daily newspaper in Palestine which depicted the complexities of the plight of the Palestinian refugees. At the end of every comic strip he left his signigature, which was the picture of a little-barefooted-boy giving his back to the world. What started off as something as simple as a hobbie for illustrations has turned into the world's symbol of hoping that one day there will peace between Israelis and Palestinians. These old cartoons are still very much relevant today and Handala, the refugee child who is present in every cartoon strip, remains a powerful symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination.

“His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way."

Handala was born as a ten year old child and he will always remain ten. This is because Handala left his homeland at age ten and when he returns he will still be ten. It is only when he returns to his homeland that he will start growing up again. The laws of nature do not apply to him because he is unique. Things will only become normal again when the homeland returns back to peace and the Palestinian and Israeli people are no longer fighting.

Al-Ali presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was only a Palestinian child but his consciousness developed enough to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child. This is why people adopted him.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The British Mandate PRT 4 - Britain's Failure

Some Zionists objected to the idea that the biblical Land of Israel had included the East Bank of Jordan, moreover, there were many Palestinian Arabs who were against the separation of Transjordan from Palestine. However, this separation was approved by the League of Nations in 1922 and began the development of two separate territories: Transjordan and what is known today as Palestine.

Within Palestine, the British Mandate was trying to establish two things:
  1. Building a Jewish national homeland
  2. To prepare the population for a self-government

Due to the fact that many Palestinian Arabs were against the idea of creating a Jewish national homeland within Palestine, these two tasks became very difficult for the British. Even though the British were genuinely trying to find a common ground between both peoples, it seemed that in the end the British will have gained enemies instead of being allies with the Jews and the Arabs.

Under the first stage of building a Jewish national homeland, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill issued a White Paper which stated that a “national home” did not mean making all of Palestine into a Jewish nation and that Jewish immigration would be regulated and limited through “absorptive capacity” of the country.

Immigration was both the fears and dreams of both peoples and became the core issue of this conflict. “For Jews, only be achieving majority status could they fulfill the 2,000-year-old-dream; any limit on Jewish immigration was too much. For the Arabs, the ultimate nightmare was losing majority status in their own land; any Jewish immigration was too much” (Alan Dowty).

Thus, this was ultimately a zero-sum battle because no compromise would satisfy either side. Every new wave of Jewish immigration (also known as an "aliya") resulted in Arab demonstrations and riots and each outbreak of violence resulted in the British response of an investigation by the Royal Commission to try and figure out what went wrong.

A total of five Royal Commissionoccurred during the time of the Mandate and each of them pointed out that the guidelines that the British had set up were all contradictory with one another. Every time the British would try to create a new compromise, both sides would reject it because it was either too little or too much for one party or the other. This only resulted in more violent outbreaks which made the state more unstable.

As a result of the chaos and as a result of the British failing at trying to establish national institutions that would bring together both the Jews and the Arabs, Britain ended up stepping out and left these two people to fight amongst themselves and to figure it out on their own. The end result was that each community developed its own institutions, and the separation between them intensified over time.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The British Mandate PRT 3—The Palestine Mandate

From the Balfour Declaration, which declared that within Palestine there will be a national home for Jews, came the Palestine Mandate which split up the territories accordingly under British rule.

The new map of the Middle-East was drawn up by Britain and France:

  • The powerful Ottoman Empire was replaced by a small ethnic Turkish state known as Anatolia.

  • Syria and Lebanon became mandates under the rule of France

  • Iraq became a League of Nations Mandate under British rule

  • Palestine became a British Mandate instead of an international Mandate

At first present day Jordan was included under the British Mandate, however, Britain was still trying to fix and settle out their previous commitments. Thus, Britain decided to organize the territory east of the Jordan River (77% of the area) as a semi-autonomous territory known as “Transjordan” under the rule of Abdullah ibn Husayn, a son of Sharif Husayn; Faysal ibn Husayn was given a new created throne in Iraq.

The remanding 23% of the original territory, which is located west of the Jordan River, between international borders of Egypt on the south and Lebanon and Syria on the north, became the final Palestine Mandate.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

British Mandate PRT 2 – The Balfour Declaration

Britain has made three secretive promises thatcontradicted with one another: First they divided the Arab nations amongst themselves, France and Russia. Then they promised those same exact lands to the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn ibn Ali, under Hashemite rule. After promising the Sharif of Mecca that he will have direct rule over all current and forming Arab states (including Palestine), the British went and promised the Jews a national homeland in Palestine. The last promise was made so that the British could gain the United States friendship and keep the Russian’s.

Despite all of these promises that the British made within the Middle-East, the most crucial of them all was the last promise; the promise of a national homeland for the Jews within Palestine, which is known today as being part of the Balfour Declaration. This final promise was what initially created the monster on both sides which lead to the major fighting between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

On November 2nd, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour released the following policy statement in the form of a letter to Lord Lionel Rothschild, who is head of the British Zionist Federation:

Foreign Office
2nd November 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild:

I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty's Government the following declaration of our sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour

This is the famous Balfour Declaration. Even though it was at first only a written statement, it soon became a legal document that was written into the British Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations.

This statement was highly debated before it actually went into print by the British. “It spoke of a "national home," not a state; it was to be "in Palestine," not "of Palestine"; and the rights of the non-Jewish population were to be respected (in the Jewish and British readings, this meant the individual rights of Arabs and not Arab national rights).” (Alan Dowty)

Despite all of these conditions, Zionists welcomed this statement as a major victory for Jews. For Jews this meant that the Zionist movement was becoming internationally recognized as a legitimate enterprise which was the result of the establishment of the Palestine Mandate from the Balfour Declaration which included guidelines of building a Jewish national home in Palestine.

This lead to the creation of a monster on both sides because the British has promised the Sharif of Mecca direct rule over all Arab states, including Palestine, and at the same time had promised a national homeland to the Jews. Moreover, it was very controversial because the Jews saw the Balfour Declaration statement as giving Jews ALL of Palestine as opposed to only receiving a national homeland WITHIN Palestine. Major outbreaks occurred after the release of this documentation because both the Palestinians and the Jews were unclear as to what they were each getting. Massive fighting outbreaks occurred to the point that Britain was no longer capable of controlling what they just did, and the monster that they just created, that they just picked up and left the two peoples to deal with it and sort out the miscommunication on their own. Thus, when looking at it from an objective point of view it is clear that the British are to blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict and that the British must and should take full responsibility of trying to fix what they did.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The British Mandate - Prt 1

[The Ottoman Empire]
The Ottoman Empire was one of the strongest and largest empires during its time. It spanned through three continents and controlled Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. and was feared by practically the rest of the world because of its hostile laws and regulations; espeically by the Jews.

After the Great War, the Ottoman Empire made a very bad decision; they decided to side with the Central Powers in World War I. It was thought that the Turks really had no choice in this. If the Allied Powers won the war then Britain, France and Russia would take hold of the straits at Turkish expense. And when the Ottoman Empire aligned themselves with Germany (one of the Central Powers) instead of the Allied Powers, they allowed for just that to happen.

The three powers (Britain, France, and Russia) within the Allied Powers began to break-up the Ottoman territory amongst themselves in secret agreements that gave Russia control of the straits, gave Syria and Lebanon to France and promised most of present-day Iraq and Jordan to Britain, and projecting an international power in Palestine.

Great Britain also started what was known as the “Arab Revolt” within the Ottoman Empire in order to try and speed-up the end of Ottoman Empire. They did this by going after Ottoman-appointed governor of the holy cities, the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn ibn Ali, head of the Hashemite dynasty and thirty-seventh in direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w). In secret negotiations, the British promised to Husayn their support of an Arab state or states under Hashemite rule in the Arabian peninsula, Syria, Iraq and in the Hashemite interpretations, Palestine (great debate with what the English word “district” referred to.

Clearly the British have now put themselves in a lot of trouble seeing that most of this land has already been promised in another secret negotiation to France.

Moreover, this was not the last promise that the British had made in the Middle-East. Britain was involved in an catastrophic World War and thus the Brits were trying to win over the Zionist movement. They thought that if they were to win over the Zionist movement than they would be winning over the Jewish support in Russia and in the United States and possibly gaining an ally in the future grounds of the Middle East. So Britain went forward and promised in secret that Palestine will be the national homeland for Jews. This was known as the Balfour Declaration.

So that’s three secret promises to three different countries, Britain is really stirring up the fire!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Objective vs. Subjective

Objective: a source of conflicts which its characteristics are of which that stress rational behavior and focus on “interests” in the analysis of politics, domestic, or international. When different interests by different people can not be met, then the pursuit of one’s own interest does not seem irrational.

This conflict is seen as an objective conflict because it surrounds the idea of conquering an object (territory). In other words, it is seen as “givens” that exists independently from our thoughts and feelings. Anything that deals with land, wealth, and power are all “objective” ideas. They are not only seen as objective because they exist independently from our feelings but because these objects create conflicts between people because it is impossible to meet all of the demands unless there is a political process to decide who gets what.

Due to the fact that both Israeli’s and Palestinian’s are acting on behalf of their own interests rather than on behalf of emotions, then there is a higher possibility that both will be able to cooperate with one another in order to come up with a compromise that will suit both peoples. Especially since in the read world it is very rare that most conflicts are a “zero-sum” conflict.

Subjective: the source of the conflict is produced by the mind, feelings, or temperaments of the subject. This includes ideas and ideologies, perceptions and misperceptions, cultural and societal biases, and emotions and passions; in other words, anything that is derived from our mental activity.

In theory, conflicts that are subjective should be solvable because they are not considered to be a “real” conflict. In a way, it is all artificial because they are created within our minds and just as easily as the mind can create them, the mind can easily erase them.

However, our minds may be less responsive to erasing these emotions when the self is interested in the bargaining process. Even though our emotional senses are seen as “irrational”, it can still be argued that it is “rational” especially when our ideas and emotions are aggressive enough to drive us. These aggressive emotions can drive people into combats that will lead to a “lose-lose” outcome.

Therefore, the Arab-Israeli conflict is both objective and subjective!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Zero-Sum Game

Eretz Yisrael and Filastin, by most definitions, are the same exact piece of land by borders that were created by the British Mandate of Palestine after World War I. Thus, Jews and Arabs are fighting for the same piece of territorial land to make their own state.

The winner will claim ALL of the land and the loser faces the threat of being left stateless. "Just as two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, so two sovereign states cannot govern the same territory at the same time" (Dowty). Game theorists refer to this as the zero-sum game: whatever one side gains comes at the expense of the other (gains and losses total at a zero).

Without territorial compromise there will never be a win-win outcome where both sides will benefit. Due to the fact that this is a situation of total conflict where co-operations and negotiation between these two people is very difficult, it will result in a zero-sum outcome.

Unfortunately, there is still no winner nor a loser for this conflict that has been going on for years. If anything, the winner and loser sways back and fourth. There is yet to be a concrete winner.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

The Nucleus of the Conflict

So in my previous blog I described and explained some of the main myths that surround the Israeli-Arab conflict. Now that that is out of the way, I would like to take a few minutes and explain what the central basis of the conflict is.

If there is one thing you need to know about this conflict, know that this conflict is about the claim of two different peoples to the same piece of land.

It is a clash between Zionists who are trying to establish a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael and a Palestinian national movement defining the same territory as Filastin (Palestine) and regarding that piece of territory as part of the Arab world.

Supporters of Israel argue that the basic cause for the conflict is because Palestinians and other Arabs refuse to acknowledge the legitimate existence of a Jewish state in the historic Jewish homeland.

Arabs and Palestinians argue that the core of the conflict is the issue of the violation of the natural rights of Palestinian to self-determinate in its their own historical and ancestral homeland.

Both the Israeli argument and the Palestinian argument confirm the main definition that I stated above; both peoples agree that the core of this conflict is the claim of the same territory by two different peoples.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Breaking Down Myths

The Israeli-Arab conflict is by far one of the bloodiest battlegrounds not only in history but in today’s world. Surrounding the conflict are several myths that characterize the situation.

These myths are:

- Is this an “age-old” conflict? NO!
  • This conflict began in the 1880s when Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe began settling in the historical land (Eretz Yisrael/Filastin), which was then part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, in order to re-establish a Jewish presence. The Israeli-Arab conflict came into full existence during the 1947 war.

- Is this conflict caused by ethnic hatred? NO!

  • Historically, Jewish minorities lived more peacefully and happily amongst Arab populations than in most European states.

  • The term “Palestinian” was termed in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century in order to establish an identity. This was more in reaction to the Jewish settlers then the cause of it.

  • On the same note, Jews were not considered to be an ethnic group and they were only seen as a monotheistic religion. They began to establish themselves as an ethnic group in order to stake out territorial grounds in the “national homeland”. However, this idea was relatively new and was still not universally accepted amongst other Jews.

- Is this conflict rooted in a “clash of religions”? NO!

  • Judaism is a religion that accepts Islam as a legitimate monotheistic faith. Furthermore, Islam regards Jews and Christians as “People of the Book” or dhimmi (protected people) who are regarded as part of a common tradition and are given freedom to practice their own religions.

- Is this a conflict of unceasing violence that is insoluble? NO!

  • Even though there have been dramatic periods of violence, there has been times during its history that it was stable and quiet.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Emergence of the Title

The conflict surrounding Israel and Palestine is probably one of the most standard and classical conflicts in today’s world. Even the name of the conflict could be very puzzling and if said in the wrong way could get you in a lot of trouble. Many may question as to why it is not called the “Israeli” conflict or simply the “Palestine” conflict. Well this is because if we call it a conflict over “Israel” then many Palestinians and other Arabs would be highly offended and take it to mean that the conflict is pro-Israeli or has a Zionist agenda. On the other hand, if we were to call it a “Palestinian” conflict then we would be saying that it favors anti-Zionists and other critics of Israel.

So, then why not call it the “Israeli-Palestine” conflict? Well, we can’t because even though the core of the conflict surrounds Israeli’s and Palestinian’s, the involvement of surrounding Arab states after the emergence of Israel in 1948 expanded the term into an “Arab-Israeli” conflict.

Before 1948, Jews, who were still not known as Israeli’s because there was no such thing as Israel, lived peacefully with Arabs within the British ruled Palestine and the surrounding Arab nations played secondary roles.

Thus, due the rising conflicts after 1948 when Israel was established as a state, the term “Arab-Israeli” caught on because many neighboring Arab states were involved in defending not only their territory but also were trying to defend the Arabs who lived in Palestine.

Even though Palestinians have reclaimed their previous position as Israel’s major enemy and even though most neighboring Arab states have signed peace treaties with Israel (Egypt and Jordan) and others have disengaged from the conflict, it is still widely known as the “Arab-Israeli Conflict”.


Dowty, Alan . Israel/Palestine. 2nd. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interesting Video Clips


I found this video to be very interesting because it comes from younger children. If an Arab child grows up along side an Israeli child then when they grow up and are placed on the battle field then the chances of them putting a gun to each others heads will be slimmer. During war, soldiers are trained to see the enemy as an object and not a human life. But if these children from different sides play and grow up together then they will never want to kill their friend, even if they are the "enemy".

If you carry the Israeli citizenship then by law you must serve in the army or government for at least 2 years, regardless of what part of the world you live in. Every Israeli must help the state of Israel because Israel is continuously trying to be seen as an "independent" state that does not need help from anyone else except from its own people. You do not necessarily have to serve in the army, but you must serve within the government for 2 years in anything that you specialize in, but it is highly recommended that you do serve in the army.


As the days passed, the causalities rose as well. This video clip puts the Israeli Prime Minister Spokesman on the spot and exposes the truths as to why Israel has not allowed for humanitarian aid for the people in Gaza.

The people in Gaza need a lot of aid and Israel has been making it really difficult for the Red Cross and the United Nations to come in and give those people their basic necessities that every human is entitled to. The Red Cross and the United Nations have both been under attack by Israel to the point that the Red Cross and the U.N. had to pull out of Gaza because it was too dangerous. Both refuse to re-enter until Israel gives its word that they will not attack them.

Besides attacking the Red Cross and the U.N.vehicles and hospitals, Israel also launched air strikes on a school that the U.N. had overtaken. The U.N. was using this school as a shelter for those families who have lost their homes during the war and was providing them with basic needs. Many were buried under the ruble.


When people watch the war on the news they forget about the innocent people living their. Most of us imagine a battlefield with two sides fighting and most of the time that is what ABC, NBC, and CNN show. But the truth to the reality of it is that it is not a battlefield. The battlefield, the war zone, is taking place right in the streets, with the missiles aiming towards the homes of these civilians. I watched this video and watched how the father was literally on the floor crying as his daughter's dead body rolled around on the floor. I posted this video because 99% of the time they will not show dead little kids on television, they think its too "blunt" or too "brutal", but they forget that this is the truth. This is what is really going on over there. Yes, its sad and harsh, but its the reality and the world needs to see this because if they don't then no one will care to come in and intervene and stop these war crimes.

I watched this video and I literally had tears in my eyes. I sit here in my perfect little world and I forget about what is going on on the other side of the world. I know its war and people die all the time in war, but why is it that when we think of war and think of the causalities we think of them as being less important. When we turn on the news at 5 o'clock we watch because most of the time we want some sort of entertainment while having we are having our dinner. We feel sympathy for a moment or two, then we get bored and we flip the channel and forget. I think psychologically we think that because they are SO far away, that it isn't really real, or better yet that they are just not real.


It is very moving to see that many Israeli's are refusing to serve there 2 years in the army. They see how this war is not a just war and they are speaking out about how they are against it.


This is the first day and the first air strike that hit in Gaza. I literally had goosebumps when I saw the police officer laying on the floor reading his final prayer before his death arrives. It is so sad, so utterly sad. You will never see this clip on the evening news here. Luckily there was a journalist right there when it happened. I don't know how the journalist had the ability to film that dying man because it is only with these images that we no longer think of these civilians as "others" but instead as real human beings just like us.

There are so many causalities and not enough ambulances to drive people to the hospitals. All the people are helpless that everyone is trying to help out. Every and all vehicles pull up to the just-bombed area and pick up the injured and drive them to the closest hospital. Taxi cabs and other vehicles drive around all day long looking and finding the injured and the dead.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let's Get Updated

Okay so let us get updated on the current situation that is going on in Gaza

Death Toll:
Israeli civillians
- 13 dead

Palestinian civillians
- 1330 dead (437 children under 16yrs; 110 women; 123 elderly; 14 medics; 4 journalist )

- 5,450 wounded
(1,890 children & 200 in serious condition; 600 transfered outside Gaza for treatment)

(In 22 Days )

February 2nd, 2009:
BBCNEWS - An Israeli air strike on a car in the southern Gaza Strip has killed a 1 Palestinian and wounded at least 3 others, reports from Gaza say.

The fresh violence comes two weeks after Israel ended a devastating 22-day offensive in Gaza where 1,330 Palestinians were killed.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said Israel does not intend to launch another broad operation in Gaza Strip.

Israeli planes attacked a Hamas security complex and tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border on Sunday. There were no reported casualties.

Also on Sunday Palestinian militants fired about a dozen rockets and mortars into southern Israel, wounding 2 Israeli soldiers and a civilian.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak wants to negotiate a permanent ceasefire which could lead to Gaza's borders being reopened after an 18-month Israeli blockade.

January 28th, 2009:
Xinhua - Palestinian officials said Israel suddenly decided on Wednesday to partially reopen Gaza commercial crossing points following a one-day complete closure.

Israel decided to reopen the crossing points of Gaza to allow more humanitarian aids, fuels and daily basic needs of foods and medicines for Gaza Strip population.

Fatouh said that 110 trucks will be allowed into Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing, including 82 trucks loaded with humanitarian aids and 36 trucks loaded with flour, fruits, agricultural equipment and diary products. He added that another 80 trucks loaded with fodder and wheat will be allowed through Karni crossing.

January 24th, 2009:
Xinhua - All schools in the war-battered Gaza Strip reopened Saturday, a week after Israel ended a 22-day large-scale military offensive on the enclave.

Officials in the Gaza education ministry and the United Nations said that about 200,000 schoolchildren are back to their classrooms. More than 35 schools were used to shelter families who have their homes destroyed and fled it.

UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said that during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, the United Nations opened 37 schools allover the Gaza Strip to shelter around 50,000 people who have their homes destroyed.

January 19th, 2009:
StarTribune - Israel plans to pull all of its troops out of the Gaza Strip by the time President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated Tuesday, but only if Hamas militants hold their fire, Israeli officials said.

Thousands of troops have left Gaza since Israel declared Saturday its intention to unilaterally halt fire after a devastating, three-week Israeli onslaught. Gaza's Hamas rulers ceased fire 12 hours later. Large contingents of Israeli soldiers have kept close to the border, prepared to re-enter the territory if violence re-ignites.

By getting its soldiers out before the Obama inauguration, Israel hopes to pave the way for a smooth beginning with the Obama administration and spare the incoming president the trouble of having to deal with a burning problem in Gaza from his first day, the Israeli officials said.
Israel has been quietly concerned about possible policy changes by the incoming administration after eight years of staunch support from President George W. Bush. Obama has said Mideast peace will be a priority even as he grapples with a global economic crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

January 18th, 2009:
Associated Press - Militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza agreed Sunday to a weeklong cease-fire with Israel, after three weeks of violence that Palestinian medics say has killed more than 1,000 people and turned Gaza's streets into battlegrounds. Sunday's announcement came about 12 hours after Israel declared its own unilateral ceasefire.

Hamas' Syrian-based deputy leader, speaking for the militant Palestinian factions, said on Syrian television that the cease-fire will give Israel time to withdraw and open all the border crossings to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

An Israeli security chief told Cabinet ministers the military operation "is not over" and that the next few days would be critical to determining whether it would resume.

The Israeli cease-fire went into effect at 2 a.m. Sunday local time after three weeks of fighting that killed some 1,300 Palestinians, about half of them civilians, according to Palestinian and United Nations officials. At least 13 Israelis also died, according to the government.

The cease-fire went into effect just days ahead of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday. Outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration welcomed Israel's decision and a summit set for later Sunday in Egypt is meant to give international backing to the truce.

Leaders of Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Italy, Turkey and the Czech Republic — which holds the rotating European Union presidency — are expected to attend along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

January 16th, 2009:
MySinChew - Israeli troops again pounded Gaza on Friday after killing a top Hamas leader, as the Islamists offered a conditional truce amid a diplomatic push to end the war that has killed more than 1,100 people.

The army locked down the occupied West Bank for 48 hours after Hamas called for a day of "wrath" against the offensive in Gaza that on Thursday saw one of its top leaders, interior minister Said Siam, killed in an air strike.

In the pre-dawn hours, Israeli tanks withdrew from the Gaza City neighbourhood of Tal Al-Hawa, where clashes the previous day levelled parts of the residential area and set a hospital ablaze. Medics rushed into the area, the site of furious clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters that sent hundreds of terrified civilians fleeing for safety. Many sought shelter at the Al-Quds Hospital in the neighbourhood, but the building was engulfed in flames after Hamas and Israeli troops fought pitched battles for 12 hours a few hundred metres (yards) from the medical facility. In scenes of utter panic, patients who had been wounded could be seen struggling to get out of their beds to head outside into a cold night where clashes raged.
At least three babies in incubators and three people on life support were wheeled out of the Al-Quds hospital into the flame-lit streets.

Since Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead on December 27, at least 1,105 Palestinians have been killed and another 5,130 wounded, according to Gaza medics. Some 600 of the victims have been civilians, including 355 children, they say.

On the diplomatic front, Egypt pressed on with its Western-backed efforts to broker a truce in Israel's deadliest ever offensive on Gaza. Israeli negotiator Amos Gilad was due to return to Egypt on Friday to discuss the details of a possible ceasefire, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said. Gilad held four hours of talks in Cairo on Thursday. And in what was seen as a key breakthrough, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was to travel to Washington on Friday to sign a memorandum on joint efforts to halt smuggling along the Gaza-Egypt border.

The deputy head of Hamas's Damascus-based leadership in exile, Mussa Abu Marzuk, told AFP the Islamists were ready to accept a one-year renewable truce if Israel pulls its troops out of Gaza. Hamas is awaiting Israel's response, Abu Marzuk said, adding that the offer is also conditional on Israel's lifting of the crippling blockade it has imposed on Gaza since the Islamists seized power.

Israel's offensive has sparked widespread outrage across the globe and on Thursday the Jewish state was roasted during an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly. The offensive has sparked widespread concern about a humanitarian crisis breaking out in one of the world's most densely populated places where the vast majority of the 1.5 million population depends on foreign aid. Tonnes of aid went up in flames on Thursday after an Israeli strike hit a UN compound, setting alight a warehouse.

January 15th, 2009:
Reuters - GAZA - Hamas tells Egypt it would agree to a year-long renewable ceasefire in Gaza if Israel pulls out all its forces within 5-7 days and reopens border crossings immediately, Hamas and diplomatic sources said.

JERSUSALEM - Israel's prime minister, foreign minister and defence minister will make "decisions" about a ceasefire after getting a briefing about talks in Cairo, an official said.

GAZA - Israel kills senior Hamas leader Saeed Seyyam in an air strike after unleashing its heaviest shelling of Gaza neighbourhoods since the start of the 20-day-old operation.

GAZA - Israeli shells strike a U.N. compound and a media building, an attempt to force Hamas to accept Israel's terms for a truce. A hospital was also hit the fighting.

JERUSALEM - Addressing a main Israeli concern, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by telephone that Washington would sign an agreement on measures to stop Hamas from rearming after a ceasefire, Olmert's office said.

DEATH TOLL - At least 1,076 Palestinians have been killed in the air-and-ground offensive and more than 5,000 have been wounded, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. A Palestinian rights group said at least 670 of the dead were civilians. Thirteen Israelis have been killed -- 10 soldiers and three civilians hit by Hamas rocket fire since Israel launched on Dec. 27 a military campaign it said was aimed at ending such salvoes

January 14th, 2009:
Xinhua - The Israeli army has intensified on Wednesday morning its strikes on several targets in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, killing four Palestinians as the Israeli offensive on the enclave continues on the 19th day. Meanwhile, local radio reported Wednesday that Israeli warplanes fired dozens of smoke bombs on central Gaza City, adding that Gaza was covered with heavy white smoke.

Palestinians dug hundreds of tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for smuggling goods from Egypt into the enclave which is under strict Israeli blockade.

Mo'aweya Hassanein, emergency chief said on Wednesday morning that 977 Palestinians were killed and 4500 wounded since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, 2008.

January 13th, 2009:
BBCNEWS - Israeli troops have entered the suburbs of Gaza City and are engaged in street fighting with Palestinian militants, according to reports. Witnesses say Israeli special forces have advanced several hundred metres into several districts and intense gunfire can be heard.

A Gaza rights group has said more than 90,000 people have fled their homes. Palestinian medical officials say more than 40 people were killed on Tuesday, as Israeli troops advanced into parts of Gaza City and continued attacks elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. They said emergency services had been unable to reach many of the areas targeted.

They say that since the offensive began, 952 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza - around a third of them children - and more than 4,200 have been injured.

Diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire are continuing in Cairo, where Egyptian mediators are pressing the Palestinian militant group Hamas - which controls the Gaza Strip - to accept a truce proposal. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday where he discussed the Gaza situation with King Abdullah. The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi, in Cairo, says the meeting indicates that Egypt is seeking Saudi Arabia's help in persuading Hamas to accept a ceasefire. Earlier, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said any agreement would have to entail a halt to Israeli attacks, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the opening of border crossings to end the blockade of Gaza.

January 12th, 2009:
BBCNEWS - Israeli forces are moving slowly into Gaza's most densely populates areas, reports say, as they continue air and ground attacks on Hamas militants. Air strikes also continued through the day against 25 "targets" across the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said. Nearly 30 rockets or mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza. Overnight on Sunday fewer air strikes were carried out - 12 compared with as many 60 on previous nights.

Palestinian medical sources say 910 Palestinian have been killed in Gaza so far, of whom 292 were children and 75 were women. Israeli officials say 13 Israelis, including three civilians, have been killed. Israel is preventing international journalists from entering the coastal strip, making it impossible to independently confirm such figures.

Both Hamas and Israel have rejected last week's UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. Reports suggest diplomatic efforts between Egypt and Hamas in Cairo are progressing. After meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said the elements were in place for a ceasefire agreement.

January 10th, 2009:
YAHOO!News - The United Nations has decided to resume aid distribution for embattled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip after receiving security assurances from Israel, the world body announced. UNRWA suspended operations in the enclave on Thursday after a UN convoy was hit by two Israeli tank shells, killing one UN contract driver and wounding a second. The International Committee of the Red Cross also restricted its Gaza operations after one of its vehicles was hit, apparently by Israeli fire.

Hundreds of thousands of Gazans were in dire need of food, water and other essentials in the wake of Israel's two-week-old assault on the Palestinian territory. They described the health situation as "extremely worrying", adding that hospital staff had difficulty getting to their places of work. Most of the Gaza Strip was without power, solid sewage waste was piling up, and over 21,000 people were now sheltering in UN schools amid a shortage of blankets and other essentials, they added. Civilians were not safe anywhere in Gaza, said UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes stressing the rising civilian toll among the 792 dead Palestinians and 3,200 injured, according to Palestinian figures considered credible by the United Nations.

"The Secretary General spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by phone this afternoon and expressed his disappointment that the violence is continuing on the ground in disregard of yesterday's Security Council resolution," Michele Montas said.

January 9th, 2009:
Xinhuanet - A day after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved a resolution calling for cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Israel declared on Friday in a defiant gesture that its defense forces IDF will continue its operation in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

After Arab and Western foreign ministers agreed on an amended version of a Britain-drafted resolution on Thursday, the UNSC adopted the Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza "leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces." It was approved by 14 votes in favor while the United States abstained.

At least 779 Palestinians have been killed and about 3,200 wounded since the operation. On the Israeli side, 13 Israeli's have died, including four killed in rocket attacks. The other nine were soldiers killed in ground battle in Gaza.

January 8th, 2009: - At least three were rockets fired from Lebanon which struck northern Israel early today, the first time the Jewish state’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip has spread elsewhere in the region. The rockets slightly injured two people and leaving several others needing treatment for shock, police said.

The attacks come a day after Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Islamic Hezbollah militia, warned of “all possibilities” against Israel in reaction to the Gaza conflict. Israeli forces fought a monthlong war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006.

January 6th, 2009: - Israeli soldiers and Hamas gunmen engaged in pitched battles in the Gaza Strip, as diplomatic efforts to end the 11-day conflict failed to make headway.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed and 24 others wounded by a tank shell in a “friendly fire incident” in the northern region of Gaza, the military said in an e-mailed statement today. Another soldier may also have been killed by fire from his own forces. Israel lost one soldier in fighting with Hamas Jan. 4.

At least 573 Palestinians have died in the conflict, some 50 in the overnight fighting, and 2,600 wounded, said Mu’awia Hassanein, chief of emergency medical services in Gaza. Israeli strikes today hit two schools run by the United Nations in Gaza, killing five people, Agence France-Presse cited UN officials as saying.

January 5th, 2009: - French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives in Israel today to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in an attempt to push for a cease-fire.

Israel two nights ago broadened what started as an aerial campaign aimed at stopping rocket attacks on its southern towns and cities into a ground operation involving thousands of troops. Israel suffered its first combat death yesterday when a soldier was killed by Hamas gunfire. Rocket attacks have killed 4 other Israelis since fighting began. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict.

Israel bombed a mosque it said was used to store weapons and destroyed the homes of more than a dozen Hamas operatives Friday, but under international pressure, the government allowed hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports to leave besieged Gaza. Many of the evacuees were foreign-born women married to Palestinians and their children. Spouses who did not hold foreign citizenship were not allowed out.

At least 9 Palestinian children were killed in two separate strikes by Israeli forces last night, said Mu’awia Hassanein, chief of emergency medical services in Gaza.

January 1st, 2009: - Israeli warplanes today attacked government buildings in Gaza after rejecting any temporary halt to its bombing campaign. Hamas security officials said buildings housing the education and transportation ministries had been virtually destroyed. The Palestinian parliament building was also hit, they said. Gunmen in Gaza retaliated by firing a long-range rocket at the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva.

Israeli troops and tank crews have gathered in large numbers on the Gaza border ready for a new stage in the fighting. A possible invasion by Israeli forces could range from limited ground incursions to a much larger land invasion of Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. Another call-up of reservists has been approved, bringing the total to 9,000. Israel widened its buffer zone under military authority around Gaza to a radius of 25 miles after the reach of Hamas rockets extended to the town of Be'er Sheva.

December 31st, 2009: - Olmert met Barak Obama, foreign minister Tzipi Livni and his senior commanders for an apparently tense four-hour meeting on Tuesday night. A security cabinet meeting yesterday then decided against any pause in the bombing.

The French government had tried to convince the Israelis to accept the pause and to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. But Israel's leaders were keen not to repeat the experience of the 2006 Lebanon war when divisions over strategy led to recriminations and loss of confidence among the Israeli public.

Israeli jets yesterday bombed smuggling tunnels on the Egyptian border as well as a mosque in Gaza City, which the military said was used to store weapons.

Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets into southern Israel, reaching a new range of around 25 miles and hitting the city of Be'er Sheva. The rockets have killed four Israelis since Saturday. The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza rose to 393 Palestinians with 1,650 wounded in five days.

Israel has allowed in around 100 trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies on each of the past two days, but that comes after months of severe economic blockade and big shortfalls in Gaza of food and medical supplies. The UN said it was still well short of what was needed and described the humanitarian situation in Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, as "alarming".

December 29th, 2009:
Xinhua - Israeli warplanes struck by air-to-ground rockets early on Monday several buildings into the Islamic University of Gaza. The residents said that several buildings at the female campus into the Islamic University compound that include chemical labs were completely destroyed. No injuries were reported.

Shortly before midnight, two Palestinian civilians, including a child were killed and four wounded in an Israeli air strike on northern Gaza Strip.

On Sunday night and on Monday predawn, the Israeli air forces intensified its air strikes on dozens of targets belong to Hamas movement, including security installations, metal workshops and institutions.

Medics in Gaza said that more than 300 Palestinians were killed and over 1000 wounded during the unprecedented intensive Israeli air strikes.

December 27th, 2009:

Reuters - At least 229 Palestinian's are reported killed and over 700 wounded after Israel launched a series of air strikes against multiple targets in Gaza Strip due which came after the expiry of the 6-month seize-fire between Israel and Palestine. "Saturday's death toll was the highest for a single day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1948, when the Jewish state was established.

TIMESONLINE reported that the first round of air strikes came just before noon, followed by several more waves of missiles. Dozens of security compounds were destroyed and some missiles even struck as children were leaving school. As sirens filled the streets and smoke filled the sky, mothers were desperately looking for their children underneath the rubble. Television footage showed Gaza City hospitals crowded with people and civilians transporting the wounded in their cars.“We are treating people on the floor, in the corridors. We have no more space,” said one doctor at Gaza’s main Shifa Hospital.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The War Zone

Before I begin blogging about the current situation that is going on in the Middle-East-- Gaza vs. Israel-- I would like to discuss my own personal experiences with the whole Israeli-Arab conflict. Many people think that the Israeli-Arab conflict exists only in the Middle East, however, if you are of either decent you will realize that it also exists in Canada, in the United States and every where else around us. It surrounds us every single day and enters our lives on a daily basis -- most of the time we don't even notice, but it is there.

I have been a victim of war three separate times, two of which surround the Israeli-Arab conflict. My father is Lebanese and my mother is Palestinian, however, we have lived in neither country. My parents, my extended and my immediate family were all born and raised in Kuwait. My great-great-great-great grandparents moved to Kuwait in the early 1900's and they and everyone after them have stayed in Kuwait up until Iraq Invaded Kuwait in 1991 and the Gulf War began.

War 1:
My parents use to travel the world. On this particular long family vacation of visiting several foreign countries, my parents, my older brother and myself stopped in our final destination in Michigan to visit my uncle who had come from Kuwait to do his undergrad. As our trip was coming to a close end, we began to pack up our belongings in order to get ready to go back to our beloved home country of Kuwait. I remember my dad went out with my uncle to get a few last items when we got the news. It was splattered on every single channel, the heading reading "Saddam invades Kuwait".

As we sat there glued in front of the television screen amazed at the idea of war, I knew that my dad was thinking about something completely different. My father is not only the first born child (which means he must serve in the Kuwait army) but my father also worked as both pilot and engineer for the Kuwait Army. It was not long after the news hit the media that my father received a phone call from his commander demanding him to be on the first flight back to Kuwait so he could serve his country. In 24 hours all of my father's co-workers and fellow friends within the Kuwait Army were already slaughtered and thus my dad was not only very scared for his life but also very confused as to what to do for his family. He had two options now: be on the next flight back to Kuwait and die the next day or stay here, with his family, and lose everything he worked so hard to get. So, with only the clothes on our backs, and the few dollars my father had left in his pocket, we crossed over to Canada and declared refuge. Of course, we lost every single little thing that we had; everything from things that were valuable to non-valuable; from money to our memories. We lived like kings and queens in Kuwait; my brother and I had our own separate nannies and besides them we also had three maids for the house and a personal driver (of course my parents drove, the driver was for when my parents didn't feel like driving or when they needed something to pick up). So, imagine, if you will, the lifestyle we lived and then suddenly trading that all in to living off of welfare for what seemed like endless years. However, I am still grateful. I am grateful that I have a father who is very hard-working. Even though my father was a pilot and engineer who graduated from universities in both France and in Kuwait, when he came to Canada he was denied his education. I remember him working as a taxi-driver at night and then coming home early the next morning to get ready to go to school. I remember living in this small little box of a house, sharing bedrooms with my brother and parents and questioning as to why my father was studying when we were having dinner. Now, I have come to realize that he was doing all of this because we literally were poor because of this war. My father worked hard every single day until he became half of what he used to be. We now live in the nicer part of my city and both my older brother and I attend university and pretty much receive anything and everything that we want right at the tip of our fingers; in my opinion I live a very good life, but when you ask my father he will tell you that everything that he has right now only accumulates to 1/5 of what he use to have back home and says “I am living in an open prison, working like a dog every single to make a fraction of what I had”.

War 2:
I made the decision to go with my cousins to Lebanon in the summer of 2006. I was very excited because this was the very first time that I would be going to my home country of Lebanon. I was going to be there for 2 solid months and if that didn't excite me then the idea of my parents not being there with me definitely did. We had tickets to all the hottest shows from Paul Von Dyke's concert to 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg and everyone else in between that were performing in Lebanon that summer. It was looking like it was going to be a great summer.

Six days. That's all my 2 month trip lasted, 6 days; including the day I flew in and the day we escaped the country.

At the time I really didn't know what was going on. We heard the explosions, saw the smoke, and we hid for dear life. We turned on the television and splattered on every single channel was the headline "Israel invades Lebanon." I didn't understand what was going on and everyone else in the country did not care to understand either, everyone's main concern was getting out of the country. Every Lebanese person knows that Lebanon does not have an army; it barely even has a solid government. Lebanon at that time was seen as the 3rd tourist country in the world, Paris being the first. Thus, 70% of the people in the country were merely tourist --including my family and I.

[View of Beirut from our apartment: those are not clouds]

I remember how we all slept in the hallway of our apartment that night with 5 or 6 candles lighting up the room. I remember how one of my cousins literally shit her pants that night. I remember my aunt the next morning running into our bedroom and shouting "you all have 15 minutes to pack up your things, we are evacuating". I remember looking out of my glass window of the apartment that was situated on the mountains on the outskirts of Beirut and seeing missiles flying in the sky. I remember as me and 6 of my other cousins would stand and watch the missile fly over our building and begin to count down"10..9...8..7..6..5..4.." and then plug our ears because once the missile disappeared we were going to hear that famous "KABOOM" and then watch the dark smoke rise in the sky. I remember how we were telling my little baby cousins that the scary “KABOOM” noise was fireworks that were really far away that we could only hear but not see.

About 15+ of my family members (all of which live in Canada and are Canadian citizens) piled up in a bus (relatively similar to a Greyhound bus) and began our journey out of the country. The situation was getting worse by the hour in Lebanon and seeing that we had a lot of children with us, the parents made the wise decision not to wait for the Canadian Embassy (who were taking there very sweet time to come and rescue the Canadian tourists) and decided to get out on our own before its too late.

[On the way to the Syrian Border and all the civilians who are tyin to escape as well]

I think driving through the country was probably the scariest part. I saw death in front of my eyes. I saw dead bodies and puddles of the freshest red blood I have ever seen. Several times on our way to the border a missile would fly over us and bomb the building near us. The whole bus would shake and everyone would begin to cry. We weren't the only vehicle on the street. The roads were piled with vehicles and people who were both driving and walking out of the country; those who were merely walking were carrying on their backs whatever they possibly could.

[Finally made it to the front of the line on the Syrian border's]

Israel had managed to bomb all of the main bridges out of the country. As a matter of fact, the first thing that Israel bombed and shut down was Beirut-International Airport (it was a very smart tactic on their behalf). There was only one bridge left out of the country that Israel had not bombed yet, and everyone was rushing to it as quickly as possible, including us, and this was the bridge to get into Syria. I remember how much I praised my lord the second we crossed over. But the second I finished uttering the last words in my prayer, we all hearedthat famous "KABOOM" and felt the bus shake. We all turned around to see that that bridge that we were just previously waiting on for the past 6 hours was just bombed and every single civilian who was waiting to get through the customs was now eliminated and buried under the ruble of cement.

War 3:
This is not a war that I have personally lived in but it is a war that has effected me. I speak of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. My mother's family use to live in Palestine around the 1940's before Europe divided up the territory. One evening a bunch of Israeli soldiers stormed into my mother's grandmother’s house and kicked them out. My blind great-great-grandmother was sitting in a different room then they were when the Israeli soldiers broke into their home and kicked them out. Everyone was kicked out of the house so very quickly that no one had a chance to go back for my great-great-grandmother. And because she was blind, she couldn't get out herself let alone know what was going on. So they slaughtered her.

The Israeli-Palestine war has been going on since the 1800s and has never really stopped. I am effected by this war every single day for the simple fact that I am half Palestinian and because our blood bleeds every single day. In no way am I saying that Palestinian blood is more valuable then Israeli! I value human life, ALL human life, regardless of religion, skin color, ethnicity, background; Black, white, blue, or yellow; Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or Christian. All human life is the same and every ounce of blood dropped from either or all is equivalent. What I meant by my prior statement is that more innocent Palestinian blood has been shed then anyone else’s. Especially right now with the situation in Gaza where the death toll has reached almost 1000 in approximately two weeks, most of which is the innocent bloodshed of children.

I am effected by this war because every single day I become a victim because I unwillingly was born with a nationality that I did not chose for myself. For my nationality I suffer every single day and fight a personal battle against all of those who judge me based on homelands that I never lived in nor have citizenship to. I carry duel citizenship of both the United States and for Canada because the United States is my birth country and Canada is my home country and yet every single day I am discriminited against because I am still not seen "Canadian/American enough". This is one of the reasons that I have chosen to stay anonymous in my own blog posts because I know that no matter what I write, whether it is pro-Israli or pro-Arab or merely in the middle, this could possibly come back to haunt me because just as these may be simple words, it is and always will be about the politics behind it.