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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Look Homeward Gaza

Thomas Wolfe wrote in "Look Homeward Angel"

“If I had known. If I had known,” said Eliza. And then: “I’m sorry.” But he knew that her sorrow at that moment was not for him or for herself, or even for the boy whom idiot chance had thrust in the way of pestilence, but that, with a sudden inner flaming of her clairvoyant Scotch soul, she had looked cleanly, without pretense for the first time, upon the inexorable tides of Necessity, and that she was sorry for all who had lived, were living, or would live, fanning with their prayers the useless altar flames, suppliant with their hopes to an unwitting spirit, casting the tiny rockets of their belief against remote eternity, and hoping for grace, guidance, and delivery upon the spinning and forgotten cinder of this earth. O lost."

As you are reading here, at this very moment, some 6000 Palestinians are stranded, languishing in the heat of the desert, waiting, some since June 9th, to return to Gaza via the Rafah crossing which has been closed completely since that time. To add insult to injury, each party involved in the control of the crossing is blaming the other for the catastrophe. The EU which did man the crossing has withdrawn their men because they say their contract was with the Security Forces which at the time of the signing of the agreement were under the control of Fateh. Israel, who holds ultimate control, refuses to deal with Hamas who is now in control of the Security Forces.

Letters written to the EU have resulted in ambiguous answers to the dilemma, stating that the problem is being worked on. Twenty-eight people have died on the Egyptian side waiting to cross back into Gaza from Egypt and NOTHING has been accomplished towards a solution to allow these thousands of people to return home.

At this time, Husam El Nounou and Marwan Diab of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program as well as Dr. Mona El-Farra, vice president of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza as well as director of M.E.C.A. (Middle East Children's Alliance) which operates several children's centers in Gaza are among the many stranded at the Rafah crossing.

Recently Dr. Mona completed a 17-city tour of the United States as well as appearing before the UN. (her statement there). Her last appearance before attempting to return home to Gaza with her teenaged daughter was in Los Angeles. I had the extreme honor of hearing Dr. Mona speak that day, June 8th, at All Saint's Church in Pasadena. An audience member asked her if she was fearful that she might not be able to return home due to the Rafah crossing situation.

Dr. Mona replied, "I am not afraid for me, Mona, I am afraid for ALL the others who cannot return home also."

Dr. Mona has spent years dedicating her life and works to her sisters and brothers in Palestine, yet there she is, stranded like thousands of others in the Egyptian desert, unable to return home.

Tonight, on KPFK Los Angeles, Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer was interviewed live from Gaza. In the half hour in which he spoke he gave the human side of what is happening to his fellow Palestinians, whom as he said, were only four minutes away from where he was standing in Gaza. He told all who were listening that in the past 36 days since the crossing has been closed, sixteen babies have been born to Palestinian mothers in Egypt. These children were not born in hospitals and have no rights to Egyptian citizenship, yet their births were not recorded nor were they born in Palestine, so at this point, they are not elegible for Palestinian citizenship. In other words, without documents, these babies cannot return home. There are many sick people who had traveled abroad for medical treatment who are not receiving care at the border. The conditions are HORRENDOUS and people are running out of the little money they may have had. There are no public facilties set up for them and many are depending on the locals for help.

To listen to Mohammed Omer's interview, you can hear the podcast here on the Progressive Independent website

(the first portion is an EXCELLENT interview with Rania Masri concerning Nahr al-Barad Camp in Lebanon, the entire hour is WELL worth listening to)

Mohammed Omer's website is Rafah Today


Dr. Mona wrote on her blog, From Gaza with Love, this last Sunday

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My mother is in her last moments and I cannot cross the borders.

My mother is in the hospital at the moment. She is severely ill. She was admitted to hospital 3 days ago.

I cannot reach her.I finished my 45 day speaking tour in the USA. All across the USA and in every lecture I told the audience about our suffering, living in this big prison called Gaza. I told them about the borders closure and about the patients who passed away while waiting to cross the borders.

The borders have been closed for more than 5 weeks, 28 patients died while waiting to cross the Rafah crossing, the only crossing between Gaza and Egypt. All other exits are completely sealed by the Israeli army. The border was opened 70 times in one year.

Now it is my personal story, like the daily stories of 1.4 million people in GAZA under siege and occupation, poverty, lack of resources, killing, shooting, violence etc....

I cannot cross the borders, I cannot cross the Rafah crossing. I badly need to be next to my mother. I badly need to be there with her to help her, to do whatever I can for her. To say good bye mum.

I was always there for my patients and many people, to help and try to alleviate their suffering. In her last hours I cannot be there, my hands are tied. I am helpless, I can do nothing, I just have to wait and wait and wait. My throat is dry, my eyes are full of tears.

This is unjust, inhuman. It is the occupation. How can it come to be just and fair, when it is mainly based on injustice, aggression and cruelty?

Can somebody help me to go home? I badly need to be at home next to my mother in her last moments.

Good bye mum, I hope you rest in peace, a peace we do not enjoy in Gaza.

with love and solidarity

Mona ElFarraSunday

15 July 2007

Dr. Mona is but one of the MANY stranded in this human catastrophe. She has not had the time to write more because she is so busy at the crossing. Thousands, EACH with their own story, their own family in Gaza, languishing in the hot sun, and Israel is refusing to allow them in.

I urge everyone reading here, if you are American, to contact your Representatives and Senators concerning this matter. I also urge you to contact local, statewide and nationwide news outlets to tell them what is occuring and to ask them WHY this is not being covered in the mainstream media. All the major news outlets have sources in Egypt that can go to Rafah to cover this tragedy. Only with more interest raised by the media will the powers who have control over this feel pressured to resolve this matter. If you live elsewhere, PLEASE contact your news outlets to alert them about this.

This video from Al-Jazeera is the latest I can find on youtube. It is from July 2nd. Notice in the beginning, the spokesman says, "Where is the Red Crescent?" Dr. Mona is the Vice-President of the Red Crescent and she is STRANDED and desperate along with thousands of her brothers and sisters.

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