Archive for category Freedom & Friendship Delegation

Report-Gaza UNWRA Visit

Posted by on Wednesday, 23 January, 2013
Phil McCullough observes UNWRA food distribution area delivering sacks of  flour to local families in Refugee Camps

Phil McCullough observes UNWRA food distribution area delivering sacks of flour to local families in Refugee Camps

Phil McCullough is a lifelong Irish Republican Activist in West Belfast. A former political prisoner, Phil now does voluntary work with Coiste na nLarchimi. In 2011 he took part in the Freedom Flotilla II and was a passenger on the MV Saoirse, Irish Ship to Gaza. The boat was captured in route to Gaza and boarded by the IOF Navy. As a result, Phil spent a week in Givon prison, in Israel, before being released back to Ireland. Phil was a delegate of the recent Irish Friends of Palestine Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza, November 2012. Phil writes his thoughts below on a meeting he and others attended at UNWRA in Gaza.

UNWRA VISIT, GAZA, NOVEMBER 2012

Because of the Israeli aggression and war against the people of Gaza in November 2012, we, the Irish Friends Of Palestine Group were forced to abandon our mission to Gaza at the request of our Palestinian hosts until after the ceasefire. A few days into the cessation we were on our way to Gaza. Our agenda was indeed a hefty one. Early morning starts and late evening endings. One of our designated tasks was the meeting of the UNITED NATIONS WELFARE RELIEF AGENCY. or the UNWRA for a background on their work in Gaza and then onwards to visit a refugee UNWRA food distribution centre and a destroyed UNWRA school. Now I have many, many, difficulties with the UN worldwide but it has to be honestly stated that what they are undertaking here in Gaza and their performance and impact here is tremendous.

UNWRA Deputy Director addresses members of Irish Delegation and European Delegation.

Almost 1.1 million citizens of Gaza out of a total population of 1.7 million inhabitants depend on the UNWRA relief programme and that is more than three quarters of the Gaza population. The UNWRA headquarters compound in Gaza is like a fortification with gun posts at its corners and main gates. This is a necessity due to the ongoing aggression by the Israelis. Our bus drove into the HQ compound past wary armed guards. The deputy director of the UNWRA mission Mr.Scott Anderson, along with his assistant they delivered a very detailed and comprehensive update in relation to their ongoing work and mission in Gaza. After a very interesting two hour meeting and a discussion with the UNWRA team, our delegation departed from the HQ compound and were escorted by UN vehicles through Gaza city heading to the Jabilia refugee camp. As we passed through this impoverished camp of Jabalia , it stood as a testimony to the recent violence which ravished the poor place. Thousands of bullet holes in the walls of the shacks people call home, and the ruins of demolished buildings that had been blasted to pieces, along with their inhabitants, by Israeli F16 war planes.

Surrounding areas and buildings next to UNWRA facility were bombed and destroyed causing damage to the UNWRA facility as well

Surrounding areas and buildings next to UNWRA facility were bombed and destroyed causing damage to the UNWRA facility as well

Jabilia is the largest of eight refugee camps established after the illegal “carve up” of Palestine in 1948. Our convoy drove slowly through the blue gates of the UNWRA food distribution centre. This UN food centre was like many other UN buildings in Gaza targeted by the Zionists and was damaged by air bombardment only days before. The rubble of a large bombed building lay alongside the food distribution warehouse. As we were shown around this old large warehouse we watched closely as the young , the elderly, and even some with horse and cart, all queued up for their three monthly allocation of food assistance. Mountains of large white sacks full of vital flour appeared to be the main stock here. Those Palestinians who have registered for aid with the UNWRA food distribution centre are given an allocation of dried dates ,flour, tinned fish, cooking oil and bread. This does not fulfill all of their nutritional requirements, but it is a vital part of their meagre diet.

UNWRA Facility

Of all the projects that we were invited to visit and meet during our mission to Gaza, for me perhaps the UNWRA operation was the most interesting and informative. Not only is the UNWRA involved deeply with the food relief programme for the people of Gaza but they are involved with just about all aspects of the life and relief of Gaza. They build schools, hospitals, clinics, medical centres. And they supply employment for thousands of Palestinians. Much of their fantastic work has been repeatedly bombed and destroyed by the Israelis over the many years of aggression. But the UNWRA keeps bouncing back. Indeed a job well done by the UN for a change.

ADDITIONAL INFO ON ALL 8 GAZA REFUGEE CAMPS DEPENDANT ON ASSISTANCE FROM UNWRA:

Location map of all eight refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.

BEACH CAMP (AKA SHATI CAMP) The third largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps – and one of the most crowded – Beach camp is known locally as “Shati”. The camp is on the Mediterranean coast in the Gaza City area. In the camp, 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• More than 87,000 registered refugees
• 16 school buildings running on double shifts to accommodate 32 schools. UNRWA also uses a Palestinian Authority school building for one school in the afternoon.
• One food distribution centre
• One health centre

BUREIJ CAMP is a comparatively small refugee camp located in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The camp is near Maghazi and Nuseirat refugee camps. In the camp, 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• Over 34,000 registered refugees
• Seven school buildings, four of which run on a double-shift basis, accommodating 11 schools, four running on double shifts
• One food distribution centre
• One health centre

DEIR-EL-BALAH CAMP is the smallest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, west of a town of the same name, in central Gaza. Deir al-Balah means “Monastery of the Dates”, a reference to the abundant date palm groves in the area. 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• More than 21,000 registered refugees
• Five school buildings, all of which operate on a double-shift basis, accommodating 10 schools
• One food distribution centre, shared with Maghazi camp
• One health centre

JABALIA CAMP is the largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps. It is located north of Gaza City, close to a village of the same name. 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• Nearly 110,000 registered refugees
• 20 school buildings, all running on double-shifts accommodating 40 schools.
• One food distribution centre
• One health centre

KHAN YOUNIS CAMP refugee camp lies west of the town of Khan Younis, a major commercial centre and stop-off point on the ancient trade route to Egypt. 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• Nearly 72,000 registered refugees
• 25 school buildings, 22 running double-shifts, accommodating a total of 38 schools
• One food distribution centre
• Three health centres

MAGHAZI CAMP is located in the centre of the Gaza Strip, south of Bureij camp. It was established in 1949 and is one of the smaller camps in Gaza, both in terms of size and population. 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• Just under 24,000 registered refugees
• Seven schools, three running on double shifts
• One food distribution centre
• One health centre

NUSEIRAT CAMP is currently home to more than 66,000 refugees. Set in the middle of the Gaza Strip, Nuseirat is very near Bureij and Maghazi camps. 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• More than 66,000 registered refugees
• 11 school buildings, of which 9 operate on a double-shift basis, accommodating 20 schools
• One food distribution centre
• Two health centres

RAFAH CAMP established in 1949, is located in the south of Gaza, near the Egyptian border. In the year after Rafah camp was created, thousands of refugees moved from the camp to a nearby housing project at Tel El-Sultan, making the camp almost indistinguishable from the adjacent city. 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.

Statistics

• More than 104,000 registered refugees
• 25 school buildings, 17 operating on double-shifts, to accommodate 42 schools in total
• One food distribution centre
• One health centre

Deplorable conditions, people in Refugee camps depend on UNWRA to survive

Report Fishing In Gaza~Life and Death

Posted by on Saturday, 19 January, 2013

Irish Friends of Palestine Delegation at Gaza Seaport meeting Fishermen

Pat Fitzgerald is a Sinn Fein Councillor at Waterford County Council and John Hearne is a Sinn Fein Councillor at Waterford City Council. Both men were crew members on the Irish Ship to Gaza MV Saoirse,with Pat as the Ship’s Engineer. They both spent a week in Givon prison, in Israel, after their boat was captured in route to Gaza and boarded by the IOF Navy in 2011. Both men are professional Trawler fishermen in Ireland and members of the recent Irish Friends of Palestine Delegation to Gaza November 2012. As part of our Irish Delegation they held meetings and tours with Gaza fishermen and with Mahfouz Kabariti of the Gaza Fishermen Association. The Delegation made a presentation of engraved Derry Crystal to Mr. Kabariti and the Fisherman’s Association on behalf of Irish Friends of Palestine members who were part of the Irish Ship to Gaza Freedom Flotilla II Campaign. A personal report from Pat Fitzgerald is submitted below. For a full list of upcoming reports about our recent delegation go HERE

A chairde, I consider myself honoured to have been part of the delegation that visited Gaza in early November 2012 just days after a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and the Israeli government. The ceasefire agreement ended the latest 8 day round of aggression by Israel on the helpless, imprisoned, and oppressed population of Gaza during which they suffered aerial bombardment, shelling and the threat of invasion from thousands of Israeli troops amassed along the border of the enclave.

The trip was organized by the Irish Friends of Palestine. During the visit, which lasted six days, our delegation met with victims and relatives of victims killed and injured in the conflict, we also met with voluntary groups, governing officials, the United Nations envoy to Gaza, hospital staff, school teachers, pupils and the Fishermen’s Association of Gaza.

Presentation to Mahfouz Kabariti (left) on behalf of the Irish Friends of Palestine members of the Irish Ship to Gaza Freedom Flotilla II. An excerpt from Irish Poet Seamus Heaney's poem "The Cure at Troy" was inscribed on the crystal plaque: "History says, Don't hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme. So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge. Believe that a further shore is reachable from here. Believe in miracles and cures and healing wells."

As I come from an area in Co. Waterford which is steeped in a fishing / nautical tradition and having previously worked in the marine sector for almost twenty years, I was particularly interested in the plight of the fishermen of Gaza. Mr. Mahfouz Kabariti of the Gaza fisherman’s association had kindly offered the delegation an invitation to meet with them and on the fourth day of our visit we arrived at the Fisherman’s co-op of the Port of Gaza.

Delegation of Irish Fishermen meeting with the Gaza Fishermen's Association. Delegation members left to right: Clr Pat Fitzgerald, Clr John Hearne, Ben Duggan, Ollie Stapleton, Diarmuid Murray, John Mallon, Phil McCullough

The Co-op building had suffered severe damage the previous week during an Israeli F-16 bombing raid when the building next door which had housed the fishermen and harbour workers canteen was totally demolished. However despite their obvious problems, the leaders of the fishermen welcomed us with open arms and invited us into the building and lead us up a badly damaged concrete stair case to the co-op conference room. In this room overlooking the port of Gaza which had cracked walls and twisted window frames and broken glass swept into one corner, we listened to the concerns of the fishermen.

Clr John Hearne with fellow Delegation member Phil McCullough get report on fishing situation in Gaza. Nets are often purposely destroyed by Israeil Navy and difficult to repair or replace.

Just to give you some back round information. In 2005 Israel illegally reduced the twenty nautical mile limit which was established under the Oslo Accord to ten nautical miles. In June 2006, Israel imposed a total ban on fishing. The ban lasted for months. When the fishery reopened fishermen were permitted to fish within a six nautical mile limit only. The limit was further reduced to three miles in 2007. However, since 2009 Israeli forces have continued to attack Palestinian fishermen even within the three miles. After the ceasefire negotiated in late November 2012, the Israelis have relaxed the limit to six miles but as the fishermen need to target migratory fish species in deep water, this is only a slight improvement on the three mile limit.
Palestinians are pushing for a complete rollback to the twenty mile limit of the Oslo Accord. On an almost daily basis, fishermen are subject to being shot at, which results in deaths and injuries among crew. Their vessels are often attacked with powerful water cannon, arrested, unnecessarily inspected, humiliated, and their boats and fishing equipment are often confiscated.

The Port of Gaza itself is a large well built port. It’s sheltered by two long breakwaters about a kilometre apart extending from the shore and almost enclosing a deep water basin. It has a narrow entrance on the northern side. The fishing fleet consists of approximately 500 vessels, 400 of which are small one man vessels. A further fifty are the slightly larger sardine type vessels, crewed by one sometimes two men. There is about twenty 14-16 metre vessels, these are sturdy wooden hulled boats with transom sterns and a large flared prow.

Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza Seaport

These boats are used for trawling and seine netting. There is a further ten larger vessels which use the longing lining method, although these have not been to sea for years as they are designed for the deeper offshore waters of the Mediterranean. The vessels looked to be in a seaworthy condition despite an almost six year trade blockade of the Gaza strip enforced by the Israeli military. The blockade which is now entering its sixth year has created huge problems for fishermen, who along with all the other problems they face, also have to endure a shortage of fuel and spare parts, even paint, antifouling and rope is in short supply. The vessels are privately owned and crewed from a pool of 3’700 registered unionised fishermen. The crews are paid using a percentage or what we term as ‘share of the catch’ similar to the way Irish fishermen operate.

Palestine is a land which also has a long maritime tradition. Fifty years ago the Palestinian fishing fleet worked all over the eastern Mediterranean. Fish made up an important part of the diet of the Palestinian people. With their fishing fleet now hemmed into a sea area six miles wide and forty miles long the fishermen themselves are now reduced to just fishing to put what little fish they catch on their own family tables.

Gaza fishermen try to survive as best they can. Due to fishing restrictions illegally imposed by Israel, they waters are voer fished and the catch is very small.

After the meeting as we were leaving the harbour area, I was approached by an old fisherman. He told me his son Ammar Mohamed Baker had been arrested while at sea fishing the previous week. The Israeli military had boarded his vessel and ordered the skipper to bring the boat and crew to Israeli port of Ashdod. Ammar was the family’s sole breadwinner and they had not heard from the Israeli authorities as to when he would be released or indeed why he had been arrested. Since my return home I have been in contact with the Israeli Embassy in Dublin on a number of occasions and I have not yet received any information from them as to why this man was arrested and detained. This type of oppression is a common enough occurrence for Palestinian fishermen and to the best of my knowledge this man is still in prison.

Clr Pat Fitzgerald and Clr John Hearne with Mahfouz Kabariti (left) and Mohammed Baker (center) Two of Mohammed's sons are fishermena and were attacked with 12 other Fishermen by the Isreail Navy the day after signing a ceasefire.

My good friend and colleague Waterford City Councillor John Hearne is a man who has accompanied me on the recent Irish Friends of Palestine Delegation to Gaza and also two previous failed attempts to enter Gaza by sea as part last years Flotilla. John also has many years experience of fishing here in Ireland and in Australia. It was John who advised me to look at the Palestinian fisherman’s experience with their Israeli masters and compare it to our own.

Clr's Pat Fitzgerald and John Hearne take notes during reporton fishing conditions from Mahfouz Kabariti of the Gaza Fishermen's Association.

PLEASE WATCH THIS INFORMATIVE VIDEO FROM GAZA FISHERMEN. NOTE THAT THE 3 MILE LIMIT WAS PART OF THE CEASEFIRE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HAMAS WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN EXTENDED TO 6 MILES, HOWEVER ISRAEL IS STILL ATTACKING BOATS THAT VENTURE PAST THE FORMER 3 MILE LIMIT.

Determination in the Face of Israeli Brutality – The Children of Gaza

Posted by on Friday, 11 January, 2013


** Daithi Bell is a Sinn Fein Councillor and a teacher at Corpus Christi College in Belfast. He has kindly put forth the following submission after travelling out to Gaza on our most recent Delegation which took place immediately after the recent invasion of Gaza. To learn more about our program go HERE to see an example of the program go HERE.. Daithi’s report:

Sinn Fein Councillor Daithi Bell, who is also a teacher at Corpus Christi College in West Belfast, stands in the ruins of a bombed classroom in Gaza

It is with great difficulty that I will try to describe what I saw and witnessed during my visit to the destroyed schools in Gaza and the feelings I experienced. It would be wrong of me not to do so and I am duty bound to carry this message back to you all.

I experienced a mixture of emotions upon visiting the region. It was heart breaking to see the amount of devastation caused by the recent Israeli attacks on the area, combined with the high levels of poverty that are a direct result of the continued siege on the Gaza strip.

On our third day we were brought to the Ministry of Education and were shown one of the schools that was targeted during the attacks. I braced myself for the worst as I was already aware that during the Israeli assault, children had suffered the most, and the highest percentage of casualties were in fact children.

one of the many classrooms struck by Israeli missile at Umm El Khura Primary school.

I as a teacher cannot imagine teaching, never mind learning, in such conditions as I viewed bombed out classrooms and playgrounds. I asked myself constantly, how in any way could a school be considered a legitimate target?

West Belfast teacher Daithi Bell pictured with youth worker MaryKate Quinn. also from belfast, visiting bombed out school in Gaza.

Teacher Daithi Bell holds up sample of childrens school work found in the rubble of bombed classroom.

Children’s class books and work littered the floor. Huge sections of the walls and floors were missing. Tables and chairs were entangled in a mess of steel and iron. There were also holes in the walls were shrapnel from the bombs had cut like a knife through butter. I could not bare to imagine what the loss of life might have been had children been in the classrooms I saw. What I can say from seeing this is that there is no doubt that the Israeli statements saying that they were trying to target combatants is a bare faced lie! This eight day long bombardment was an attempt to break the spirit and moral of a determined, unbowed and unbroken, Palestinian people.

I am a proud Irish Republican but I believe it does not take a person to be politically motivated to realise right from wrong. It simply takes one to be human, regardless of your religious or political beliefs to see what has been inflicted upon the Palestinian people is nothing short of an act of genocide. I only hope that I in some way can make a difference.

Teacher Daithi Bell meets some former students of the bombed out school who tell about the devastating loss of their school and classrooms

Through the school twinning project that I will be working on I hope to share what I have seen with others. What we achieve as individuals may be small in the grand scheme of things, but a great man once said “Everyone, Republican or otherwise has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young to do something.”

This applies to every just struggle across the world, and it is with the thought of those smiling faces that greeted us upon entering Gaza, despite the oppression they have suffered, that we must have a renewed determination to work harder than ever for freedom, justice and equality. Tiocfaidh ar la!

Some of the beautiful Children of Gaza

****FOR A FULL LIST OF UPCOMING REPORTS
TO BE PUBLISHED ON OUR SITE GO HERE ****

Freedom & Friendship Delegation 11-2012-Report Back

Posted by on Friday, 11 January, 2013

Children in Gaza Greeting Irish Delegation

The following list contains the majority of meetings undertaken by members of the most recent Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza during the month of November 2012 immediately after the Israeli attack on Gaza. Over the coming weeks we will post individual reports on these meetings and or discussions, along with photos and videos. We will finish up by reporting on our future work flowing from these meetings in Gaza which will be undertaken in 2013 and beyond.

Tour/Visit/Meetings with Minister of Local Government

Meeting, discussions and presentation with Minister Mohammed J. Al –Farra
Tour Civil Affairs Building destroyed by Israel, this building housed visa applications, births, deaths marriages etc.
Tour Al Jazeera Club where disabled atheletes train, building and facilities destroyed by Israel
Tour Yarmouk Football Stadium destroyed by Israel
Report on Waste Management situation which is DIRE!

Ministry of Education and Higher Education

Deliver Gift and letter of friendship from our Minister of Education John O’Dowd to Gaza Minister of Education Mr Osama A. El Mozini
Presentation and Meetings with Minister of Education Dr. Osama A. El Mozini to discuss fact finding mission on Educational situation in Gaza after invasion and IFOP’s school twinning program with Ministry of Education Gaza.
UNWRA school destroyed by Israel
Umm El-Khura Girls Primary School hit by missiles
Abasan Girls Primary School-IFOP Twinning Program

Official Governmental Meetings

Visit PLC with other International delegations for panel discussions regarding the International Campaign for Releasing the Abducted members of Parliament. Report on the Israeli violations against the MP’s of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Audience, presentation and meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah.

Khan Younis Municipality Meetings and Visits

Letter of friendship from Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell to new Mayor of Khan Younis Mr. Yahya M. El Astal-Meetings and discussions with Mayor and Hazem Al Farra, Head of International Relations Dept Khan Younis Municipality.
Tour of Khan Younis city, Refugee Camps, Police Station, schools and NGO’s; Emaar and Basma Centre.
Discussion of the strong ties between Derry and Khan Younis sister cities.

Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees

Meetings and discussions of future projects with Dr. Attallah Abu AlSebah Ministry of Detainees Affairs Jerusalem and Refugees, and other Ministry of Detainee Representatives
Conference on Prisoners
Meeting former Prisoners and Families of Prisoners
Rally for Prisoners and Families
Individual Cases of importance

Gaza Fishermen Association

Tour and Fact Finding Mission
Presentation to Gaza Fishermen Association
Meetings with Gaza Fishermen.

House of Wisdom

Received by Dr.Ahmed Yousef and Maphaz Yousef of HOW. Meetings held at HOW with a cross section of representatives of both Governmental and Civil Society including representatives of all Political parties and views. Open discussion on what can be done and proposed future IFOP work with HOW

Other Meetings and Visits

CEPR ( Council for European Palestinian Relations)- Ramzy Hassouna, Gaza
Lunch with Mr. Sameeah Al Haddad-from Al Haddad Brothers Co. Ltd.
Visit Al Dalou family and home. The Al Dalou family lost 10 members including 4 children during the recent attacks by when their home was hit by missiles.
OCHA meeting on current humanitarian situation

IFOP Aid Campaigns

Ibrahim’s Dream-New Electric Scooter purchase
Warm Hearts Campaign Delivering Children’s Winter hats and scarves
Basma Smile Centre and Ethar donation
Teddy Bears for Gaza Campaign
Finger Puppets for PTSD Therapy after recent Israeli invasion

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COMPLETED ARTICLES AND REPORTS TO BE LISTED HERE:

Gaza Schools by Clr David Bell a teacher “Determination in the Face of Israeli Brutality – The Children of Gaza”

Fishermen by Clr Pat Fitzgerald “Report Fishing In Gaza~Life and Death”

PLEASE CONTINUE TO CHECK BACK AS WE ADD MORE REPORTS FROM OUR VERY SUCCESSFUL RECENT DELEGATION

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ANNOUNCING FREEDOM & FRIENDSHIP TO GAZA #2

Posted by on Monday, 8 October, 2012

13 Irish men and women from Belfast, Derry, Waterford and Kilkenny, will be delegates on the 2nd Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza. Irish Friends of Palestine will be fulfilling our promises made during the 1st Delegation in March 2012 and we are returning with 6 Fishermen who will meet with Gazan fishermen and also with the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss the brutal conditions the fishermen operate under. We also have Teachers and Youth Workers on the delegation who will meet with the Ministry of Education and various schools and NGO’s to arrange work and links between Gaza and Ireland. For more about our program go HERE. You can follow our delegation by joining our Facebook page HERE

We currently have 3 projects we are working on for this trip. We need your help and support:

1. Ibrahim’s Dream CLICK HERE

2. Basma “SMILE” Center CLICK HERE

3. Crafting for Gaza Kids CLICK HERE

Freedom & Friendship Delegation Project #2 Basma Smile Centre

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 September, 2012

PLEASE HELP TO KEEP THEM SMILING

To donate to this project via credit card or paypal go HERE

Some of the beautiful children getting help from the Basma Smile Centre

In March of this year Irish Friends of Palestine traveled to Gaza and visited the Basma Centre where we met with Mr. Anwar Abu Mosa and Raida Abu Hamad who run the Centre and as part of our special friendship with Khan Younis we undertook to spread the word about the Centre and to ask the Irish people to help the children who are attending the centre.

March 2012 Irish Friends of PalestineDelegation meeting with Basma Centre in Khan Younis.

Hearing your mothers voice is something we all pretty much take for granted. Hearing your child say your name is also something most of us take for granted.

Staff and some of the Children at the Centre during a therapy class

The Al Basma Smile Center for Audiology & Speech Therapy carrys out critical work in the areas of Cochlear Implants, speech therapy and testing. They are also responsible for surgical pre-care and aftercare of children who receive Cochlear Implants. The Centre is run on donations and has a small staff and amazing volunteers who dedicate themselves to helping deaf children in Gaza have the ability to communicate. For those children who are able to benefit from Cochlear Implants, the center carries out this task in conjunction with a visiting Surgeon who performs the surgical operation in a Gaza hosptial. The Center also tests for early detection of hearing problems or speech disorders which when uncovered allows the Center to immediately get that child into one of the Centre’s programs to assist their individual needs.

In Gaza there are beautiful children in need of your help and support for Cochlear Implants, and/or parts and Batteries to keep the implants running.

The Cochlear implant needs batteries to keep them working, due to the siege these are hard to come by. Please donate so that this chiild and others like him can keep hearing

The device is surgically implanted under a general anesthetic, and the operation usually takes from 1½ to 5 hours. First a small area of the scalp directly behind the ear may be shaved and cleaned. Then an incision is made in the skin behind the ear and the surgeon drills into the mastoid bone, creating a pocket for the receiver/stimulator, and then into the inner ear where the electrode array is inserted into the cochlea. The patient normally goes home the same day or the day after the surgery, although some cochlear implant recipients stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 days. As with every medical procedure, the surgery involves a certain amount of risk

After 1–4 weeks of healing (the wait is usually longer for children than adults), the implant is “activated” by connecting an external sound processor to the internal device via a magnet. Initial results vary widely, and post-implantation therapy is required as well as time for the brain to adapt to hearing new sounds. In the case of congenitally deaf children, audiological training and speech therapy typically continue for years, though infants can become age appropriate—able to speak and understand at the same level as a hearing child of the same age. The participation of the child’s family in working on spoken language development is considered to be even more important than therapy, because the family can aid development by participating actively—and continually—in the child’s therapy, making hearing and listening interesting, talking about objects and actions, and encouraging the child to make sounds and form words. Professionals trained to work with children who have received cochlear implants are a major part of the parent-professional team when addressing the task of teaching children to use their hearing to develop speech and spoken language. These professionals include, but are not limited to:

Speech-Language Pathologists
Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapists
Pediatric Audiologist
Teacher of the Deaf with a specialization in Oral Deaf Education

The above services are supplied by the Basma Centre and it’s staff thanks to Donations, but Donations are becoming harder to get due to the siege and children are in need of parts and batteries for their implants. The specialist implantation surgeon does not reside inside Gaza, he travels into Gaza and carries out surgical cochlear implantation on several children each time he visits, then he leaves Gaza and the children’s aftercare is left to the Basma centre and it’s volunteer Staff.

Children learning to sign

All the pre-care and after care and speech therapy and Audiology work is a monumental task for such a small center to handle, much of their the equipment is old and outdated and even the newer stuff needs parts. This is a direct result of the siege and the fact that within Gaza people are poor and our of work, again due to the siege, and so the Centre has to look outside Gaza for donations.

With your help, Irish Friends of Palestine will deliver funds and parts to Al Basma which will help the centre to continue to deliver Cochlear implants to children, so they can have the gift of hearing and speech.

Imagine for one minute that you can directly be responsible for helping a child in Gaza to hear their mothers voice for the very first time! How amazing is that????

He will now hear his mothers voice for the first time. He will also learn to speak and live a normal life. He is a lucky one, others like him need your help to hear and speak. Gaza is under siege, please help these beautiful children

We will issue a report along with photos when we deliver the donation to the Centre in late October/Early November

Show some love for these kids:


TO DONATE FOR THIS PROJECT VIA PAYPAL OR CREDIT CARD GO HERE

You can support our endeavours to deliver an Electric Wheelchair to Ibrahim by making a donation to our group.
You can make a standing order for any amount, or a bank transfer can be sent via:

Bank of Ireland
account# 45463260
Sort Code 90 49 74
Strand Road, Derry

Cheques can be sent:

Irish Friends of Palestine
C/O Destined
45 Great James Street
Derry, BT48 7DF

Freedom & Friendship Delegation “Ibrahim’s Dream”

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 September, 2012

Ibrahim waves to the people of Ireland, he hopes you will help change his life

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya is a 26 year old young man who lives in a very crowded refugee camp in Gaza. Dealing with everyday life can be harsh, the lack of electricity, or petrol or food. All of this makes life difficult for Ibrahim, who is tasked with the responsibility of providing for the 11 member family, two of whom are attemtping to go to college. The whole family depends on Ibrahim to survive, you see, Ibrahim’s father is not well and disabled. Albiet this would be a difficult enough task for any of us here in Ireland, but for Ibrahim it is even more difficult because he lives in Gaza.

Ibrahim was once a proud Gazan fisherman. Everyday he took to the sea in his small boat and fished the waters near his home. Being a fisherman is never easy, and can at times be dangerous, even in Ireland we know this to be so. Yet in Gaza fishermen face another danger that we dont have here in Ireland. Gazan fishermen must face the israeli navy on a daily basis as israel continues to tighten the seige by restricting the fishing areas and enforcing these illegal self made restrictions by firing at the small fishing boats as they cast their nets in hope of receiving a days worth of food. Sometimes setting the small boats on fire and sinking them, sometimes killing the fishermen on board.

But sadly Ibrahim is no longer a proud Gazan fisherman.

Ibrahim has been injured four times by Israeli attacks since the age of 12. But his life changed forever in 2008 when Israel attacked Gaza, 1400 people were slaughtered in 22 days, many more were left severely wounded and injured. It was during this time that Ibrahim was struck by an israeli artillary shell. He lost both his legs and one of his eyes.

Today Ibrahim is forced to try his best to make ends meet for himself and his family by washing cars in Gaza.

Ibrahim at work in Gaza

Ibrahim’s day begins early, at 7AM he gathers his supplies, ties his bucket to his old ragged wheelchair, then he kisses his mother’s hand and says “goodbye” as he begins his journey around the streets of Gaza looking for cars to wash. He maneuvers deftly with his rag and bucket and tries his best to reach every part of the car. All this for $1.50 or $3 if the car owner decides to be generous.

In our terms that is £0.94 or E1.19 per car!

As soon as a driver agrees to let Ibrahim wash his car, the disabled young man works so hard until the car is shining. Nobody helps him but he smiles when he finishes cleaning the car and hands it back to the owner.

“Please never look at my disabled body, look at the great job I ‘m doing,” said Abu Thuraya “I never felt despaired. It’s not the end of the world and life should go on.” He refuses any offers from car owners to give him money without him doing any job. “I’m not a hobo or a beggar. I can work and make my living,” he said. “Although I earn little money, at the end of the day I feel happy and satisfied because I hate just staying at home or becoming a beggar.”

Ibrahim uses his old manual wheelchair which is laden down with his buckets and rags to get around the streets of Gaza in order to work washing cars. His wheelchair has a tendancy to tip over at times, especially when he transfers from the chair to the car and back again, or when he turns corners. But that doesnt have to be so, Ibrahim has a dream of haivng his own electric powerchair so that he can carry all his supplies and safely get around the streets of Gaza easier, travel much farther, and perform his job faster than he can now. Having a special chair that wont tip over would help him avoid any more injuries!! An electric chair would give him the chance to earn more money, and make his work much easier and his life much freer!

Official figures show that the Gaza Strip has tens of thousands of disabled people, and due to years of tight Israeli blockade the coastal enclave is in a bad need of medical equipment for these people. Ibrahim says: “I feel embarrassed when people look at my disability, but life has to continue.”

PLEASE DONATE TO HELP US MAKE IBRAHIM’S DREAM COME TRUE

You can support our endeavours to deliver an Electric Wheelchair to Ibrahim by making a donation to our group.
You can make a standing order for any amount, or a bank transfer can be sent via:

Bank of Ireland
account# 45463260
Sort Code 90 49 74
Strand Road, Derry

Cheques can be sent:

Friends of Palestine
C/O Destined
45 Great James Street
Derry, BT48 7DF

“SONGS FOR IBRAHIM” EVENT AMAZING SPIRIT OF SUPPORT

Posted by on Sunday, 16 September, 2012

Members of Irish Ship to Gaza pictured with John Kavanagh and our friend Kamal from Gaza

Heartfelt Thanks to a great guy John Kavanagh who organised the event and who has a big heart!!

Followed by another BIG “Thank You” to all the musicians who performed on the night, such a huge amount of talent and so many offering their time and talent to help Ibrahim a young man they will most likely never meet, who lives in Gaza, Palestine. This is the amazing spirit of people in action!

Now, for those who could not attend the Event, here is some of what you missed out on:

The night began with two amazing wee Irish Dancers; Katelyn Whitty & Abby Walsh. Abby Walsh is Munster Champion for her age group.

The Dancers were followed by the young group called the “Trad Band” from Ballinaboola, Co Wexford. We love these guys so much!!!

After the Trad Lads we were entertained by Johnny Dunphy & Michelle Haberlin, and then Mark Atkins Sang and played Guitar. Then we had Pat Doyle on guitar and vocals and he was joined by his daughter Sarah on vocals and base guitar, with again Michelle Haberlin on violin. TRULY BRILLIANT TALENT ALL AROUND!!

And then we were treated to a live performance of the song called “Palestine” which won an award, IT WAS written and performed by John Kavanagh. The song really puts things into perspective and reminded us all why we were there on the night, to help people who are suffering everyday simly because they were born Palestinian and are forced to live under a brutal inhumane siege and a terrorising occupation.

Please enjoy John singing “Palestine”

ENJOY OUR GALLERY OF PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT BELOW:

John Kavanagh performing "Palestine"

UPDATE: have not met the funding goal for the purchase of Ibrahim’s new electric wheelchair, please dont let him be disappointed, We are still short on funding to make this heppen, so we are asking people to step forward and donate so that Ibrahim is not disappointed.

PLEASE DONATE FOR IBRAHIM


Bank of Ireland
account# 45463260
Sort Code 90 49 74
Strand Road, Derry

Cheques can be sent:

Friends of Palestine
C/O Destined
45 Great James Street
Derry, BT48 7DF

Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegation Returns to Ireland

Posted by on Friday, 13 April, 2012

Big Greetings from Hassan Salama School Gaza

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday 10th April 2012
For Immediate Use

Irish Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza a resounding success

Local Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine delegates returned from the first Irish “Freedom and Friendship Delegation” to Gaza promising to redouble their efforts to build links with our sister city of Khan Younis and to support the people of Gaza by continuing with more delegations in future.

Delegates from Irish Friends of Palestine were Gerry MacLochlainn delegation leader & Charlie McMenamin activist (both former Irish Political Prisoners), Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan, Alanna Campbell and Cathal Og Donnelly (Students and members of Sinn Fein Republican Youth), activist Liam McConway and Freedom & Friendship Delegation organiser Sinead MacLochlainn.

Speaking on arrival home, Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine Chairperson Sinead MacLochlainn said:

“Our delegation was hosted by the Mayor of Khan Younis Mr. Mohammed Al Farra, and the Municipality of Khan Younis, who so graciously offered us the most incredible hospitality, given the current conditions in Gaza which remains under a brutal blockade by Israel. Mayor Al Farra received us on our arrival and ensured a packed programme of visits and meetings with all aspects of society throughout Khan Younis and Gaza City.”

Delegation pictured with Mayor Mohammed Al Farra of Khan Younis, Palestine

“The main purpose of the delegation was to build educational links with the Ministry of Education and HIgher Education and University students. As such our Delegation was received by the heads of some of the main Universities in the Gaza strip, including the Islamic University of Gaza, Al Aqsa University (both the Gaza and Khan Younis Campus) and Khan Younis College of Science and Technology. Despite the siege and lack of electricity or fuel, we were impressed to learn that some 40% of young people in Gaza have access to further or higher education and some 60% of these students are women.”

“The Delegation was invited to a lunch at the Ministry of Education where we were greeted by Mr. Ahmed Ayesh Alnajjar the Director of International and Public Relations of Ministry of Education and Higher Education on behalf of Dr. Osama Elmozini the Minister of Education and Higher Education. The Student leaders on our Delegation were presented with a beautiful Plaque from the Ministry of Education to be presented to the Minister of Education here in the North of Ireland. Additionally a Plaque was also give the the Delegation itself in appreciation of the Educational links being created between Ireland and Gaza.

Plaque Presented to Student Leaders, Alanna Campbell, Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan and Cathal Og Donnelly

“Members of the Irish Delegation also met with representatives of the main political parties in Palestine, including Dr. Hisham Abdelrazic the Fateh leader in Gaza, and Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, One of Hamas leaders and also the Minister of Telecommunication in the Gaza Government and finally Dr. Ahmed Bahar, Deputy Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council.”

“In Khan Younis we visited the site of a large play park and International Garden area which is still under construction, here the student delegates joined local families in a soccer game with an idyllic view of the Mediterranean sea in the background. The Students played ball with local children at the park. Even here the realities of Israeli occupation were evident with armed Israeli drones and F-16 fighter planes flying over head. During our stay the F-16’s were our alarm clocks and the early morning call as they criss-crossed Gaza skies terrorising the population. They also dropped leaflets warning that anyone who went to within 300m of the border would be shot. Welcome to life in Palestine.”

“Visiting the packed refugee camps bears witness to the reality of life for many poor or homeless people in Gaza. Many of them had once been in full-time employment before the blockade, still others had their homes destroyed by Israel. Up to 4 generations all living in a 6 by 6 metre shed with broken walls, collapsed roofs and dirt floors with sewage problems. And still they smile at us for visiting them, this is the unbreakable spirit of Palestine!”

Delegation meeting with familly in Refugee Camp

“On our last morning as we had our breakfast we were again reminded of the realities of life for the innocent civilians of Gaza. Fishermen in small wooden crafts who attempt to gather the ever shrinking available fish which swim in the three kilometres of their own waters, the only place that Israel allows them to fish, were to come under fire from Israeli naval ships. We could hear the heavy naval canons interspersed with the pulse of heavy machine guns. We were left wondering if we’d be hearing of yet another fishermen killed for trying to support his family.”

“We also learned that three young children had been burned to death during the night while attempting to read and study by candlelight. The candle fell over and they were trapped in their bedroom, God help them, all that was left of the three children were the scorched books on the floor which they had been studying from. Yet more tiny victims of the collective punishment siege as Israel only allows 6 hours of electricity each day, these few hours can come at any time even in the middle of the night when the population is asleep, so many students rely on dangerous burning candles to study! Myself and Ogra Alanna Campbell of Coalisland attended the children’s wake with other local women. Their Mother came over and handed me her last remaining child to hold in my arms as we cried together. The tiny 3 month old baby sister who was the only survivor, found under a pile of blankets which somehow managed to save her little life by protecting her from the smoke and flames which consumed her 3 siblings.”

“Leaving we were all very silent heading to Rafah to cross back into Egypt and then home to Ireland, just trying to absorb the gravity of what we had all witnessed for the last 8 days. But we pledged we would do all we can to support our friends in Gaza and to tell their stories to the world. Therefore Irish Friends of Palestine and Derry Frinds of Palestine will continue with more Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegations to Gaza until the murderous siege is lifted!”

BOOKMARK OUR PAGE AS WE WILL BE POSTING INDIVIDUAL REPORTS ABOUT ALL THE MEETINGS AND EVENTS WE ATTENDED IN GAZA
some of those inculded are:
Ministry of Education and HIgher Education
Islamic University of Gaza
Al Aqsa University
Khan Younis College of Science and Technology
Jabalia Martyrs Primary School
Refugee camps, meeting the poor and homeless
Global March to Jerusalem/Land Day Events
Khan Younis meetings
Political Meetings with Fateh, Hamas, and the PLC
Ministry of Youth and Sport
Effects of the Siege First Hand
Gaza Harbour
Local Weekly Prisoner Protests
Prisoners and their Families
UFREE Prisoners Conference Gaza City
Ethar Initiative
Emaar & Albasmah Centre
Khan Younis Park and Garden Development
plus much more…..