Posts Tagged Freedom & Friendship Delegation

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

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TO BE PUBLISHED ON OUR SITE GO HERE ****

“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…..