Tag Archives: Gaza

Return to Blogging & from the archives; Gaza and the Mawasi

20 Apr

Have decided to return to blogging/informing despite the extremely disturbing efforts to control information whether about Egypt, Syria, Palestine, the arts.

As Bassem Youssef, heart-surgeon turned comedian said recently:  “You can’t shut people up.”

So why did I fall silent?  Actually I have been active on other forms of social media and got re-involved in music after a hiatus.

I was searching through my files and found this written for the Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict on an area of Gaza where people were trapped for years due to Israel’s administrative rules.  I wrote it after traveling to Gaza to observe Israel’s withdrawal, when settlers resisted.  I was with a news crew which filmed settlers attacking a Palestinian home from their roof; the crew and lead (from the Times) said they knew their editor wouldn’t accept the other part of the story … we went into Gaza to talk to various people about their expectations for the future.  Mind you, this predated Hamas’ victory in the elections in ’06.   Recently, I met a man in Arkansas who is from this part of Gaza and he mentioned working in the flower gardens – I had no opportunity to say I had visited.  On several other trips to Gaza, I paused to marvel at the beached boats, unable to fish, although Gaza should rightfully develop a seaport and touristic beach.  As part of the encyclopedia project one struggle was to insert more information on Palestinian geography, history, personalities and perspectives; every brief article counted.  And finally, the point – could Israel’s settlers be forced to withdraw from areas they occupy?  (Yes, almost 4,000 settlers left Gaza, not at all willingly, but they did).     

Al-Muwasi` (meaning gardens) know as Mawasi, is a strip of coastal land on the Gaza Strip, one by fourteen kilometers, divided administratively into the Khan Yunis and Rafah Mawasi. Classified under the Oslo Agreement I of 1994 as a “yellow” area, Israel controlled security, and Palestinians held civil jurisdiction. 760 families (5300 people) inhabit the Khan Yunis Mawasi. 220 families are Palestinian refugees who fled here in 1948. The residents of Malhala are Bedouin refugees, primarily from the Beersheva (Bir Saba`) area.   430 families (3000 persons) live in the Rafah Mawasi including refugees from the Ashdod area who live in the “Swedish village,” part of the Rafah refugee camp.   [Note these figures were current at that time )

At least 15 Israeli settlements were established on Mawasi including Katif, Ganei Tal, Kfar Yam, Neve Dekalim, Gan Or, Bedolah, Rafih Yam and Morag.   In 2005, Mawasi was the site of Israeli demonstrations against withdrawal from Gaza. Demonstrators seized empty buildings and threw stones at Palestinian homes.

The Mawasi Palestinians were not allowed after 1967 to travel to Khan Yunis or Rafah where some have families and property.   Later, they were increasingly restricted due to their proximity to the Israeli Gush Katif settlement to their east. The Gush Katif central administration was based at Neve Dekalim and the area was subjected to special security arrangements.   The Palestinians used to fish, but were forbidden to do so; instead they relied on agriculture. However, since 2000 this output suffered from land-razing and Israeli-imposed transport restrictions. Electricity was available only at night for 5 to 6 hours through a temporary generator. The school lacks electricity, water and sufficient teachers, and its clinic has electricity only 2 hours a day. The Khan Yunis Mawasi has only one private well and no sewage system. The Israeli settlers’ standard of living was considerably higher than the Palestinians as they enjoyed state subsidies and adequate services, well-maintained roads, better residences, and easier access to schools, clinics and supermarkets. Until 2005, there were approximately 3900 Israeli settlers in the area.

Palestinian truck-drivers used to wait for hours to drive through checkpoints.   Only men are allowed to walk through checkpoints on foot and restrictions on gas for cooking and heating were imposed there. Carrying metal through was not allowed, including coins. Of additional concern to Palestinians were incidents of Israeli dumping of toxic waste in the area and the presence of 4 sewage treatment plants serving Israeli settlements, but which pollute Palestinian areas.

Since 2005, a Red Cross project has restored some of the Shanshola boats used to fish sardines.



B’tselem. Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

“Al-Mawasi, Gaza Strip: Impossible Life in an Isolated Enclave.” March 2003, pp. 1-21.


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Suffering in Isolation: A Report on Life Under Occupation in the Mawasi Areas in the Gaza Strip, August 2003. pp. 1-125.


Personal interviews with al-Muwasi’ residents, July 2005.


Sherifa Zuhur, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College



Terrorism & CT in the Sinai & Egypt: May 1 – May 16, 2015

16 May

Judges shot dead in hours after ‘s sentence.  

May 15 Eight women banned from traveling to Turkey as Egypt enacts a new policy to inhibit women from joining ISIS. http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=c6d68300-8fab-4a6b-b9bc-878c4895cc68

May 15 Egyptian authorities stopped 22 Egyptians from illegally crossing into Libya through Salloum http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/130345.aspx

May 15 9 mid-level MuslimBrotherhood leaders arrested for vandalism & inciting to #violence #Egypt http://onaeg.com/?p=2276657 

May 14 Three people gunned down in the Sinai in two separate incidents. http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=6c90ffac-f07c-4543-9c1f-ba4801e18416

May 14 Ninety-four middle-ranking #MuslimBrotherhood leaders arrested for planning attacks on police/mil. & being in a banned terrorist organization http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/05/14/94-middle-ranking-muslim-brotherhood-leaders-arrested-interior-ministry/

May 14 National Council of #Arab and Egyptian tribes to spend LE 1 bill. on tribal development in the Sinai


May 14 Eight suspected militants killed in al-Arish in north Sinai. http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=e79cfd6c-08dc-4114-8ce0-d5dc5cfd0ab6

May 14 Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and bedouin tribes – background. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/egyptsource/a-new-sinai-battle-bedouin-tribes-and-egypt-s-isis-affiliate

May 13 Explosions kill 4 Egyptian soldiers (otherwise reported as two officers and two soliders) 4 civilians in #Sinai http://wpo.st/Nh0H0 http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/05/13/4-army-soldiers-killed-in-rafah/

and see http://www.timesofoman.com/News/51653/Article-Four-Egyptian-soldiers-three-civilians-killed-in-Egypts-Sinai-Peninsula-bomb-attacks

May 13 Reports that pro-MB terrorists downed transmission from Media Prod. City

May 13 Assessments of 6 months of Sinai operations by the Egyptian army https://www.facebook.com/Egy.Army.Spox/posts/654570224673963

May 13 Egypt’s Min. of Defense and Min. of the Interior visit military and police sites in the Sinai https://www.facebook.com/Egy.Army.Spox/posts/656550774475908

May 13 Egypt‘s security arrests Essam Derbala, head of #amaatIslamiyya (masterminds of Luxor attack & many others)  in Qena http://www.thecairopost.com/news/150399/news/breaking-gamaa-islamiyya-chairman-arrested

May 12  President Sisi gave his monthly address to Egyptians reporting on progress of many development programs, such as the new Suez Canal (which employs many Sinai residents) and also on the counterterrorism program in the Sinai.

May 12 “Sawlat al-Ansar 2” posted on Youtube by Islamic State in the Sinai http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=e64_1431447984

May 12 ISIS affiliate ‘Supporters of the #IslamicState in Beit al-Maqdis’ claiming to raise black flags in #Rafah #Gaza

May 11 Shots fired by Egyptian border guards injured a Palestinian driver at Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=765346

May 11 Egypt and Djibouti discussed Red Sea security http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=a3ee8f06-a5a1-418c-a8d0-c368231357e6

May 10 Text of the tribal union statement from the Sinai http://www.albawabhnews.com/1283036

May 10 A woman shot by unknown assailants and hospitalized in central Sinai, three brothers kidnapped from their home in northern Sinai and three militants killed – also in northern Sinai. http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=c24f42c3-57ec-4a58-bbf4-894412bd3ffd

May 10 NileSat and Min. of Electricity denied responsibility for the power failure at Maspero which caused State television to fail on Saturday http://www.thecairopost.com/news/149872/news/electricity-ministry-nilesat-deny-responsibility-for-masperos-power-failure

May 10 Failed assassination attempt on #judge in #MB case – 4 bystanders injured 3 bombs #Egypt http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/728926

May 10 2 Brotherhood sympathizers killed en route to carry out bombing attack in Fayoum. Bomb exploded prematurely. #Egypt

May 10 Thirty tribes at the Sinai Tribal Federation pledged to confront militant groups on the Peninsula. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/129898/Egypt/Politics-/UPDATED-Egyptian-tribes-pledge-to-battle-Islamist-.aspx

May 9 Two soldiers killed in N. Sinai as they picked up their daughters from school (see report below – doesn’t have the detail about “daughters”)

May 9 Major clashes between #Egypt security forces and MB in Al-Basarta, Damietta today: 6 killed according to #Ikhwan http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/726480

May 9 Many prisoners from Sinai to be released today from Azouli military prison at the second field army in Ismailia #Egypt

May 9   725 militants killed by Egyptian security forces between Oct14- April15; 1823 HQ’s & hideouts demolished;1873 suspects + 206 wanted arrested.

May 9 2 policemen killed – http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=b4ec9856-4a01-41ad-b8ac-173af4d73659

May 8 2 policemen killed, 1 wounded in #Arish drive-by shooting #Sinai #Egypt http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Drive-by-shooting-in-Sinai-kills-2-policemen-20150508

May 8 Sixteen members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis were killed in two operations in al-Arish http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=4b9b7ea0-ff94-4802-b47a-9b82f53d6918

May 7 A team of 8 observers from Europe arrived in Gaza to report in the Rafah crossing http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=765283

May 7 Karm Alkawadis military point south of Shaykh Zuwaid has been targeted by #Sinai province militants mortar shells, one soldier has been injured.

May 7 Egypt’s president greets returned Ethiopian workers who arrived from Libya after negotiations with fighting groups there. http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/129641.aspx

May 6 Report on human trafficking (including organ sales) in the Sinai (this has been ongoing for years)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqLOHgZU5iY&feature=youtu.be&a


May 6 Three Palestinians try to enter Gaza via smuggling tunnels and are killed in clashes with Egypt’s border guards http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/724383


May 5 Egyptian authorities arrest 40 people in Sharqiyya on suspicion of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. http://www.madamasr.com/news/40-arrested-sharqiya-charges-belonging-islamic-state


May 5 Who is bombing Egypt’s electricity towers – the al-Iqab al-Thawri or their backers, the Ikhwan? http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/05/egypt-power-plants-bombings-brotherhood-electricity-ministry.html#ixzz3ZJQZjwWF

May 5  Muslim Brotherhood elements kill conscript, injure investigations aide of Damietta police station

May 4 National Defense Council approves continuation of Egypt’s external military missions, including involvement in the coalition fighting in Yemen. http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=0dbf6b31-3c59-4ea1-bc1f-7bfcefe4b955

May 4 Clashes reported in Rafah as the Islamic State affiliate launches an attack on a local security camp. Different source claims there were two attacks Shaykh Zuwayd police station & central security camp – no casualties.

May 4 A bomb exploded at a Mobinil station in Shebin al-Koum in Menufiyya and another bomb was defused. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=887677597957321

May 4 Six people were injured as a bomb in a paper bag explodes in Manshiyat Nasser, a slum area in Cairo. http://www.thecairopost.com/news/148845/news/slum-family-injured-after-bomb-detonated-in-trash

May 4 Surveillance cameras will be installed nation wide in Egypt http://egyptianstreets.com/2015/05/04/surveillance-cameras-to-be-deployed-nationwide-in-egypt/

May 3 Four injured in al-Arish explosion http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/05/03/4-injured-in-al-arish-bomb-explosion/#st_refDomain=t.co&st_refQuery=/5oXdAD7O98

May 3 Forty were referred to criminal court for communication with ISIS http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=c1204ceb-0c3d-4114-9663-f9b122762502   Also see: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/05/03/Egypt-charges-40-over-allegedly-being-ISIS-members.html

May 3 “Peaceful” Ikhwan demonstrators fire on senior officer & policeman near October City #Egypt http://www.el-balad.com/1515642

May 3 An Egyptian teen is sentenced to 15 years for making bombs. http://www.albawaba.com/news/egyptian-teen-sentenced-15-years-making-bombs-689716

May 2   State of Sinai claim they cut supply of Egypt’s military and release pictures to illustrate pic.twitter.com/rgAB7xcKUu

May 2 A tribal coalition in northern Sinai offered 1 million L.E. to whoever will kill Shadi al-Menei, a senior leader of the [Ansar al-Maqdis, but ID’d here as WS) Wilayat Sina’ group. http://news.videonews.us/egypts-sinai-tribes-put-bounty-daesh-militant-028704.html

May 2 Members of a tribe abduct Haytham al-Menei – the brother of an Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis leader http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=765185&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

May 2 IED explodes near resort hotels at the Fayoum Oasis, south of #Cairo. Fayoum area hard hit by ongoing attack wave.

May 1 Gunmen attacked an al-Ahram Foundation staff bus in 6th of October city injuring 6 people, 3 of them critically. http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/129095.aspx


The Mossad Breaches Egypt’s Sovereignty — and Morsy Lets Them.

28 Jun

I received shocking news this evening.

I was not dead-set against the Freedom and Justice party from the outset as I believed the Muslim Brotherhood played an important role in the opposition to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and to the degree that people identify with them — and they deliver — they would no doubt be part of the new government. Some know that I did my initial academic research on the Muslim Brotherhood, so I know the organization rather well since the 1980s. At first, I believed the Morsi government’s complaints that liberals were stubborn and wouldn’t play ball, but realized since Morsi’s victory last June they see politics as a zero-sum game, not one of inclusion. The battle over the Constitution was not the only issue.

I had noticed some of the comments by such anti-Islamist sources as the Angry Arab who warned that Islamists would sell out Palestine so to speak. There are those who are pro-peace but also pro-justice – yet, Palestine in the sense of Bayt al-Maqdis receives attention by the international Muslim community & Islamists among them. I have heard more direct hints from some Iraqis – who shockingly (to me) said they’d be happy not to bother with Palestine in order to keep the U.S. happy. But these individuals had no ties to Islamists.

All of a sudden, I am concerned about the price that the MB in power in Egypt are willing to pay. And the ideas above of selling out Egypt’s sovereignty no longer sound wild or doctrinaire.

While we’ve all been preoccupied with Morsi’s oratorical skills (or lack thereof) and Tamarod (Rebel’s) campaign & the fate of the electoral process in Egypt, Israel’s MOSSAD has gone inside of the Egyptian border and kidnapped a Palestinian from Gaza. Wael Abu Rida is affiliated with the al-Aqsa Defenders (so that’s why Hamas may not have reacted) and used with Islamic Jihad, but is no longer. He was kidnapped because he was trying to get medical treatment for his wife. He is a jihadist, but not a Nazi, and no court has condemned him – except perhaps the Mossad’s secret tribunals.

Do you think for one minute the Mossad carried out their mission without the full knowledge of Egyptian intelligence, the highest authorities and specifically the Ministries of the Interior and Defense? Or did these agencies assist the Mossad?

And what would Egypt’s not-always-so-silent majority think about this matter? Is the Sinai sovereign Egyptian soil? Or not so much, or not always? Will Israel carry out other abductions under the Morsi government? What does this mean for the Morsi government’s commitment to the rights of Palestinians in Gaza?

Not one word has been published (yet) about the affair in the Egyptian press and only this the Arab press (http://www.alresalah.ps/en/index.php?act=post&id=2278
) It’s only circulated on Twitter since about 8:15 EST. And with the new crackdowns expected by the Morsi government, I’m very grateful for the understanding and interest of my Egyptian friends who hold dear their sovereignty and are all working so hard toward a better future.

Other governments have aided the Mossad – the Ukrainian security services were part of the abduction of Palestinian Dirar Abusisi two years ago. (http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/prisoners/4858-report-on-kidnapped-prisoner-dirar-abu-sisi) Novel after novel by Daniel Silva romanticize the Mossad and its cooperation with European security services and U.S. agencies.

As the one intrepid Jewish activist who is opposed to extralegal activities of Israeli national security (Richard Silverstein) and who reported the kidnapping has mentioned, the Ukraine obtained new trade and visa agreements shortly after the Abusisi affair. http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2013/06/26/mossad-kidnaps-gazan-in-sinai/

So what is the Morsi government going to receive for this cooperation on Egyptian soil? (Which is probably known as well to the U.S. intelligence, but it has been hushed up inside of Israel). It is a violation of the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Worst of all, it makes the Egyptian government appear to be a dupe, a push-over to Israel and a horrible hypocrite with all of its assertions of commitment to justice for the Palestinians.

Thinking about Gaza. Sherifa Zuhur. November 20, 2012

20 Nov

“Thinking about Gaza. “ Sherifa Zuhur November 20, 2012

I have been posting almost exclusively on Syria, although I’ve been posting and following the current Israeli campaign against the people of Gaza, and tracking events all over the Middle East and the Islamic world. I chose to do this on Syria, because much of the news media is excluded, or unable to travel in Syria and some outlets of information are not available in English. People are paying too much attention to the threat of foreign salafist fighters and not enough attention to the daily suffering of Syrians.

However, what has happened in Gaza is important on several levels. On one level – which I have no space or energy to comment on today – Israel has, with this campaign, attempted to reassert its regional position, and ability to wage campaigns against Palestinians without any serious challenge from the international community and without any military or political consequence from local powers – such as Egypt, Turkey, or Iran. Israel is reasserting its free hand and military superiority.

On another level, we have again witnessed the insidious nature of Israel’s military and psychological strategy against the Palestinians, and determination to outweigh, censor, and out-PR protests in the international arena – the only place where a pushback would make any difference.

Don’t be fooled. No matter which party Gazans might have elected in 2006 and no matter what concessions that party made, or didn’t make, Israel’s determination to confine, punish and continuously destroy their capacity for resistance is fierce. Resistance is the key word here. The reason that Hamas was elected, and the reason that Israel has waged assassinations galore, air strikes and the invasion in 2008-9, even the true cause of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza is that it wishes to obliterate Palestinians’ ability to resist Israeli political, military, security and land- and water-seizing demands.

It is always best to simplify our thinking. What scared Israelis more than any other events in the last seven decades? The two intifadhas. Why? They expressed resistance. An unexpected, lingering resistance that, according to all key strategists (group and individual thinkers) should have been wiped out ages ago, along with Palestinian expectations or fantasies that other Arab nations would help them achieve repossession of their land and properties, or even, simple justice – some repossession, return or remediation and political and human freedoms. Simple freedoms, like the right to move or travel from one place to another. The right to elect their own representatives.

Whatever its faults, overreach, and inability to deal with other Palestinian parties fratricidal tendencies and betrayals, Hamas symbolized a group that continued to call for resistance.

I won’t even address the silly argument that the US President has bought into – that Israelis are being bombarded by rockets day and night and have a right to not be shelled “by another country.” Just state that in reverse, Obama – Palestinians had rights that were violated, and now they have rights to not be shelled, bombarded, and vaporized by ‘another country.’ Qassam rockets are not the reason for the current conflict.

Instead, Israel sought to provoke a new wave of “resistance” and did so by first attacking a teenager, and then assassinating Ahmad Jabari, the Hamas leader who had just prior to his death, received a (presumably false) treaty proposal. Palestinians launched rockets in response. Yes. As for a time, they launched suicide attacks, or knifings in the Second Intifadha and youths learned to throw stones and burn tires in the First Intifadha.

Don’t believe for one minute in the parity of the two forces as is being claimed by the Western and Israeli media and our foolish and negligent governments.

Gaza is nothing but a large Yarmouk camp, with a beautiful beach, a beautiful sky and people with no prospects, no assurances, and most importantly, no sovereignty.

Complying, giving in, negotiating, has not brought about sovereignty. So why are we so surprised that the language of resistance persists?

This little blip of an air campaign has cost 116 Palestinian lives and 900 have been injured – so far 3 Israelis were killed. For the Israelis – for Netanyahu, this campaign is important to bolster his showing at the polls as a person/party who will supply that impossible quality — “security” – to Israelis. But the reason that absolute security is impossible to guarantee is because it is at the expense of another people’s sovereignty and human rights.