Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Not the theme of the popular production company, for those familiar with the end of the X-files credits, but rather what's becoming the tiresome theme of political factions in Gaza city, jockeying for credit for the Israeli withdrawal and credibility amongst ordinary Palestinians ahead of January parliamentary elections.

First it was Dahalan and co. valiant attempts to "reclaim gaza" (and his popularity, I might add) through overpriced Fateh-only celebrations, complete with 20, 000 "Gaza first" t-shirts, mugs, stickers and other withdrawal memorabilia (why am I beginning to feel like this is one big month-long county fair?).

In a more positive development, today Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei launched a city-wide clean-up day under the banner of "A free, clean Gaza", as he began to paint over the city's walls, which are covered with graffiti and political slogans.

It sounds wonderful, maybe now they can launch a "clean-up your act" day for the government.

Meanwhile, more city street shooting, as Islamic Jihad joined al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades by marching through Gaza's streets, firing their rifles into the air, to "remind" people who was responsible for the withdrawal.

Hamas joined the festivies by hanging banners throughout the city today in attempt to counter the PA's publicity campaign. "Four Years of Sacrifice have beat 10 Years of Negotiation". Ouch.

To their credit, they are not spending millions of dollars better spent elsewhere on celebrations, as the PA is doing, nor are they wasting money and scaring residents by firing rifles into the air, as other factions are doing.

The real test is who will deliver tangible improvements to the lives of Palestinians here. So far, Hamas has won that battle in the local municipalities, though it seems the PA may be quickly catching up.

It is interesting of course to see how all of this will evolve. These are very uncertain times for Gazans, no one really knows what the future will hold for us. Calling us "free" is a grand overstatement. We still have no state, no economic, political, or geographic viability, and no freedom of movement. I'm just wondering what's going to happen to our Israeli ID cards after withdrawal.

Not everyone is celebrating quite yet, however. Amidst all the fanfare, Palestinian communities living near Jewish settlements are bracing themselves for a month-long Israeli imposed closure effective tonight, as they stocked up on food and supplies yesterday.


Anonymous solitarioh2005 said...

IDF = Hamas contractors

Aug. 17, 2005 9:31 | Updated Aug. 17, 2005 12:00
Neveh Dekalim: Homes slowly emptying


Jerusalem Post

300 families and 3,000 infiltrators waiting for police in synagogue.

Thousands of infiltrators gathered at the synagogue and at the ulpana, or girls' school, of the settlement, leaving the streets to the residents who were mostly waiting inside their homes. About three-quarters of the homes were not evacuated on their own.

Evacuating forces are currently going into houses. Each squad carries maps of the internal layout of the houses they are entering, including information about the residents of each house.

After each neighborhood is cleared, police are blocking them off by standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a blockade. Activists are sitting in a circle in the middle of the settlement, singing prayers and engaging soldiers in conversation. Police are occasionally grabbing them one by one, putting them on a bus, and taking them out of the settlement.

Most residents are leaving quietly. In a very few cases, people had to be forced on to the bus.

So far, two buses two buses have arrived at the Kissufim junction from Gush Katif with evacuees. Eight more buses were on their way out of the Gaza Strip with more evacuees. Meanwhile, 60 containers were brought in to Neveh Dekalim to allow settlers to pack their homes at the last minute.

quote from Maj.-Gen. Yisrael Ziv, Head of the IDF's Operations Directorate, speaking from Neveh Dekalim, said, "It's going as planned. By the Sabbath, we'll wrap it all up here and all the other settlements we enter today."

At 10:15, a battalion commander ordered forces to begin collecting the people walking in the streets. "They're bothering the residents who want to leave," he said.

Inside some of the evacuated houses, workers were dismantling furniture inside the houses in order to move it.

There is almost no dialogue between the forces and the residents and activists. The residents are calling on soldiers to disobey orders. Graffiti on one house reads, "IDF = Hamas contractors."

12:23 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

Layla, I just heard you on the radio here in the UK. Well said, I only hope people here take what you said to put the disengagement into some kind of perspective.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Hi Esther-thank you! I just hope as you said it resonates. I've been interviewed so many times and I've just about had enough of the "sad settler" story, so I thought I'd drive the point home this time, :)

2:52 PM  
Blogger David said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:39 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hello: What a joy to find your blog from the UK Guardian website! The US media have more than a few stories about settler protests and even more letters and editorials by rabbis and anti-defamation groups. I have yet to see the connection between Jewish defamation and criticism of Israeli government policies, but that's a dead horse to beat another day. What I don't see are stories of Palestinian families who were forced to leave all those years ago.

In any case, I'm very happy to see things are going well so far, and I hope the withdrawals continue peacefully. Thank you for posting your blog.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Patricia Kunkar said...

Laila, hi, I am a Brazilian woman, whose father's family came from Palestina, I don't know exactly the city. My grandfather went first to Peru, after moved to Bolivia and my father came to Brazil. Sorry if I cannot speak English very well. I sincerelly wish that you can have not only freedom, but the minimum conditions to live safely in peace. Best Regards, Patricia.

8:58 PM  

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