Many of you will know that there are actions around the world as part of an extended Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) – that have been taking place since February. This is an international series of events that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
This year will be 70 years since the Nakba and over 50 years of occupation. Palestinians still have the keys to the buildings their families fled from all those years ago, symbols of hope, of yearning and of resistance.
The IAW actions are part of a global resistance to stand with Palestinians and take action in our daily lives.
On March 9th, Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund and Northern Women for Palestine (NWfP) jointly staged an event called “Women of Palestine: the ongoing Nakba” at the Central United Reform Church. The event was also staged in 7 other northern towns by NWfP.
On March 7th Omar Kiswani , chairman of the student union at Birzeit University was kidnapped by an armed Israeli undercover unit. The newly registered Sheffield Hallam Palestine Solidarity Society called a protest last Tuesday. (See photo)
What would be the media coverage if armed soldiers from any other country in the world kidnapped a student leader from a university in a neighbouring country?
The violent kidnapping by Israel of a Palestinian was business as usual for the media. Like the theft of land, like the theft of water, and like the establishment of an Apartheid regime. Israel is backed by the USA and Britain so whatever it does is accepted by the media.
Like the South African Apartheid, this tolerance of the intolerable will only end when enough ordinary people stand up and demand that it ends.
A public talk by Ramzy Baroud will be on Sunday 18th March 5pm Umix Centre
Ramzy Baroud is an activist and author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter.
His visit to Sheffield comes a fewmonths after a United Nations Committee reported that ‘the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an Apartheid regime’. In his new book, Last Earth a Palestinian Story, Ramzy uncovers memories that have resisted fragmentation and are reclaiming history for the Palestinian people.
It would be impossible for Israel to steal land from the Palestinians if it was not militarily superior. That superiority is maintained by the aid budget from the USA and military trade with the West. That trade could not go ahead without the support of the banks. On Saturday we were on the streets to point out that HSBC profits from an arms trade that helps Israel steal Palestinian land.
After the protest some of us went into the bank to complain to the manager that we had had no reply to three letters that we had previously delivered.
These protests, as well as putting pressure on HSBC, allow us to put our case to the general Sheffield public. It also allows us to inform sympathisers of our next meeting. In this case a talk by Ramzy Baroud 5pm Sunday March 18 at UMIX Centre 7 Asline Rd, Sheffield, S2 4UJ
Ramzy Baroud is an activist and author of My father was a Freedom Fighter.
As well as public meetings we have smaller working groups. On Thursday 22 February 2018 at Friends Meeting Housewe had one such meeting. It was about the Khuza’a Healing Centre for children in Khuza’a.
The more public part of the meeting was led off by Mona al-Farra who movingly described the work of Mecca, and Never Stop Dreaming.
SheffieldPSC, in cooperation with women from the Yemeni Association in Sheffield are constructing a play and healing centre in Khuza’a, aimed at helping traumatised children in the area and beyond. The project will be run by one of our partner children centres; Never Stop Dreaming in Khan Younis.
This is a hugely ambitious project. The second half was aimed at some of the detailed work that we need to do to firstly to spread awareness of the need for the centre within the wider community of Sheffield and beyond and secondly to establish a steady stream of cash for the running of the centre.
Each month we take our campaign for Justice for Palestinians to the streets of Sheffield. We pointed out that HSBC profits from Israeli Apartheid and via the arms trade helps Israel steal Palestinian land.
Dr Al Fara will talk about the desperate need to help children in Gaza traumatised by war, and siege and seeing their parents and wider families devastated by Israeli aggression.
The grave situation in Gaza
The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated region in the world. Over 80 per cent of its people are refugees and their descendants, expelled from Palestine in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel. The majority of the 1.8 million residents are under the age of 15.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2008/9 killed 1,473 Palestinians. Israel’s 2014 bombardment, lasting 51 days, reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble and killed at least 2,100; of whom 539 were children.
According to UNICEF, 373,000 children in Gaza suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Additionally, 11,000 were injured, one third with permanent disabilities and more than 18,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed. Israel’s siege and the periodic bombardments of Gaza have prevented people rebuilding their lives. Many still live in tents and makeshift homes. Water and electricity are still only available for a few hours a day. For schools, hospitals, workshops, farms and homes to be restored Palestinians need international solidarity.
Khuza’a is a town of 10,000 inhabitants in the south east of the
Gaza Strip. It is situated only 500 metres from the border with Israel. In the 2009 attack, it was reported the Israeli army bulldozed houses in Khuza’a with their residents still inside, and civilians were shot when carrying white flags.
These accounts were corroborated by the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem. Khuza’a was one of the three areas that suffered particularly badly during the 2014 Israeli attack on the
Gaza Strip. Hundreds of its civilians were killed and large areas of the town were wiped out. Some residents were used as human shields by the invading Israeli army. As a result, thousands of children are still traumatised and in need of psychological help.
Khuza’a is about six kilometres from the Never Stop Dreaming Project, which has been supported Sheffield PSC for many years.
It will manage and support the new project, with the help of the charity, Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance (MECA). Sheffield’s Yemeni community raised £9,600 towards the Centre’s construction, and a resident of Khuza’a has donated the
land for the building to be constructed on. The building work will be
finished by the Spring of 2018. The existing staff from the Never Stop Dreaming Project, that is already involved with the local community, will be provided with additional training to support children with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Thanks for reading this. Please do come to our meeting