The blockade on Gaza Strip has been called the “longest in history”, and it has been almost seven years that the Palestinians have been suffocating by the Israeli embargo. While the Occupation is cunningly imposing collective punishment on the Palestinian people, the resistance keeps on the track more powerfully than ever. These people have shown they are not doomed to oblivion, never, ever. The series “At the Heart of a Siege” deals with the issue of Gaza Siege from new angles most of which have not been dealt with so far. The series includes six episodes each probing into a singular facet of the issues related to the blockade of the Gaza Strip in depth. In three of the episodes the filmmaker provides new insights into the newfangled fronts the Israeli camp has created in its Modern Occupation. “Global Solidarity” is an effort to depict the international activists’ assistance and enthusiasm which act in harmony with the Resistance to neutralize the Occupation’s new wars. These contributions are manifest at different levels including agricultural, medical, economic, and humanitarian.
TIME CODE: 00:00-05:00
Narration: The number of International solidarity activists increases year after year. Foreign Solidarity movements were basically conducted by a few Americans, after that, Palestine became a destination for many around the world. Internationals would support the Palestinians who face various types of persecution, discrimination, murder, displacement and siege by the Israeli occupation, which has international protection for committing inhumane war crimes. Therefore, those activists who stand side by side with the Palestinians aim at transferring the picture that Palestinian people love life, they are not terrorists, and they are just defending their rights against the Israeli occupation.
SOUNDBITE [English] Joe Catron, US Activist in Gaza: “ The United States has a very powerful Zionist lobby which has slanted the country’s foreign policy and Israel’s favor for decades and this policy has never represented the interprets of the American people nor increasingly their opinions. I am one of many Americans who oppose the United States on wavering support for Israel. I came here immediately after the fall of the Mubarak Government in Egypt. At the time on the siege seemed to be easy at least for the Egyptian side and I had new opportunity to see Gaza which I have not done before , I have been active in issue of supporting Palestine and opposing the siege for sometimes and it seem appropriate to common experience which I have been working on.”
Narration: Most of foreign solidarity activists face many difficulties in reaching Gaza, However, they enter it after long waits through Rafah crossing which is always closed from the Egyptian authority’s side, and the reason behind using Rafah Crossing because Israeli occupation has banned all of them from entering Israeli airports, and that’s not all, they were also blacklisted by Israeli despite the fact that they hold foreign citizenships from countries that have close ties with the Israeli occupation
SOUNDBITE [English] Charlie Andreasson, Swedish Activist in Gaza: “The thing is that I am not allowed to go to the West Bank, year and half ago I was at ship which tried to break the siege and we deported by Israeli commanders soldiers on international border and brought to prison in Israel, because of this imprisonment I am not allowed to go to the West Bank, that’s why I am here in Gaza.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Marco Varasio, Italian Activist in Gaza: “I am also forbidden to go to the West Bank because I was arrested in 2012 in Tel Aviv at the airport because I arrived at the airport and they asked me “Where are you going?” and I said: “I am going to Palestine” and they said: “Well, Palestine does not exist” and I said: “Palestine does exist and your military occupying that.”
And then they put me on jail for 5 days and then they returned me my passport.”
Narration: This is how the Israeli occupation treats the foreign solidarity activists. However, the moment they step into Gaza, they receive another type of treatment.
TIME CODE: 05:00 _10:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Sara Katz, French Activist in Gaza: “We prepared to see public place to make this assessment and now we have invited to Jaber’s Home, I can smile at beautiful things here, this is Palestinian hospitality , there is no way you can come to Palestinian home without offered amazing food to eat to you to ignore more, they are very welcoming , thank you so much for that. The smell is so good.
-I made Makarouni with this man
-You shouldn’t not have gone to that place to make a food
-I made it from Maraco because he loves it
-We were the lucky one.
- Even as French people life is the same everywhere but here there is one big different , here we are in the cage this is a wield issue , here if the farmer needs to move they cannot, they cannot go out, they cannot export their products the life here is very difficult but the result of live is same perhaps even more .”
Narration: After enjoying a homemade meal at Jaber’s House, East of Kuza’a town, Sarah and Marco went with Jaber to the border area of the town to see the water wells there.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Jaber Jaber, Palestinian Farmer: “This well in Abu Aamer area, at the 67th used to give water to whole Khozaa and Abassan villages, but today this well is suspended and damaged, it needs repairs, this well used to work 100% after it was shelled, not directly, they didn’t intend to attack it, the rocket exploded next to it and shrapnel went off and destroyed the engine and diesel equipment, the well’s owners did some repairs but they left it because the repairs wasn’t enough, it does not provide sufficient water, it only provides 30 to 80 Cups per hour, it’s not sufficient for two farmers.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Sara Katz, French Activist in Gaza: “The problems for the framers here is not technical it is completely political , it is the political world and if the people of the world push for this it becomes easy, people know how to repair and they do not need complicated projects like this alienation of the sea water they just need the right to exploit the resources , I try to take some pictures to show the situation of the well and the documents that be highlighting to try to help family farming we hope to care awareness of the situation to help improve the lives of this farmers.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Jaber Jaber, Palestinian Farmer: “We here at Al Sanaty area, and we are about 500 meters away from the border fence, as you can see we cannot repair or do anything, because the owner of this well paid his whole money on building it, but today he cannot repair it, he just abandoned it moreover farmers stopped planting the land because there is no water, the Israeli occupation army stand on this hill and practices targeting the well, do you see any resistance up there? Do you see any people up there? They practice on the well, when they see any farmer, they hit the well in order to make 4 times the echo, frightening the farmers.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Marco Varasio, Italian Activist in Gaza: “International community wants to stop the impunity of the Israel so that the first part of our job to put pressure on the international community, on our government, to end the Israeli occupation maybe through one of the most powerful tools of the last years which is the movements and the products rest on sanctions movements , they cut all their economical ties, economical political diplomatic ties with the Israel.”
Narration: After observing a number of water wells at Kuza’a town, Charlie joined Sarah and Marco to help some farmers irrigate his land near the boarders.
SOUNDBITE [English] Charlie Andreasson, Swedish Activist in Gaza: “ Here you can see the trace of bulldozers when they leveled the land earlier and as further you go to the fence, the more destroyed is the land, you can go with tractors and make any harvesting the part of the land and that’s for the purpose of it of course , usually once if being full of fruit trees here, building houses , irrigation systems but everything where destroyed by the Israelis and the all of the things that are growing up be the crop, they can survive with a little water so that’s why they are not growing nothing else.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Abdullah Abu Taima, Palestinian Farmer: “This is the house which has been razed, I used to live here, there were greenhouses, this area was a pond for agriculture, and this area was a pond for rain, my house was here and it has been razed as you can see, the house was 3 rooms with many bathrooms on a very high level, this is the house and this is the rest of the land, this is the iron and everything used to belong to us, all this area was my house, I used to live here and we used to grow, harvest and live from this land, all this land, all that area was planted with olives. Parts of the figs and greenhouses remain.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Charlie Andreasson, Swedish Activist in Gaza: “I am here in Gaza and they are two enemy from the fence, close to the buffer zone and actually within the buffer zone and they are growing date now, we wanna water the plants, doesn’t seems that military Jeeps here now and hopefully it will be quite, we still needs to be present in case of Jeeps where gonna show up.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Abdullah Abu Taima, Palestinian Farmer: “Activists, many thanks to them stood by our side, sometime we got shot at from the Israeli side on the farmers here, those activists stand here, and by them doing so, farmers became a little bit protected, also they record the incidents here the way they saw it and transmit it to the European media, today the international media exaggerated against Palestinian farmer, against Palestinian people, unfortunately those activists sometimes no always take the incident as it is with how much injustice it shows against us, and transmit it to Europe.”
Narration: Solidarity is not limited to the agricultural sector only; also patients, who were deprived from treatment because of the siege, had their chance, too. They received medical care, and the necessary operations by doctors who decided to give those patients a hand.
SOUNDBITE [English] Richard Gary, Professor of Urology form Washington University: “I am the professor of Urology at the University of Washington and appealed to be here at children’s hospital, I am the fellowship director there, I came from the Washington Physicians responsibility, and this is my six trips to Gaza. The armed positions are coming to Gaza since 1993 and we have been doing the service work here since 2009 so we take care of birth condition of children who born and their kidney functions any bloody function and the way they their general organs work.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Suhail Matar, Al- Awda Hospital, North Gaza: “This is humanity mission , they are came to us every six or one year and they came just to help our people just to prepare some medicine some instruments and we are looking forward to communicated with them or to originate this missionary.”
Narration: While some doctors from the United States of America were helping patients at Al Awda Hospital, a Malaysian delegation visited Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza to check on the patients there.
SOUNDBITE [English] Wael Ibrahim , Malaysian TV Correspondent: “I had my first impression , there were totally wrong, I went to Kabul as well so I thought Gaza was something similar to Kabul so when I entered here in Gaza I found that most of the reports on TV , specially western medias reports are not true report so Gaza was not to be world zone so when I entered and I found that Gaza is like a normal city elsewhere . We are here to produced one three episodes of which is called “mentally Palestine” so we will focused on all aspects of live in Gaza namely Health issue , agricultural , fishing industrial issue and many others”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Marwan Abu Saada, Head of Al- Shifa Surgery Department at Gaza: “We in Al Shifa Hospital introduced them to the suffering we face in the Ministry of Health, such as instruments, continued power outages which effect sensitive medical equipment, the siege and its role in budget shortages and the scarcity of medical supplies, and primary medicines which are very important to the medical sector in Palestine, we introduced them to all of that by showing the numbers, some medicine’s total balance is 0, about 130 types of medicine’s total balance in the Ministry of Health stores is 0.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Ismael Zamilpa, Urologist ,Arkansas Children’s Hospital: “This is my third time in Gaza and I come here to see patients with urologic issues , and it is always great learning experience and I learn a lot in my honor and also teach some of the we know to the local sergeant. We work with couple of great doctors like Doctor Ismael Nasser we help us to care patients after we leave.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Richard Gary, Professor of Urology form Washington University: “Because it is so difficult for the children and the people of Gaza to get out I like the work that I do in Africa and India there is no easy choice to live to get care place centers so my hope is to comeback at least once a year or maybe twice a year and in 5 -10 years I have becoming here and sergeants here are much better than me they will be teaching me if I take care of these children that’s why I hope my dream.”
Narration: They have come from the United States of America, and from every corner every direction, some of them passed away, just like Rachel Corry, An American citizen who was crushed to death by Israeli occupation bulldozer’s chains, in 2003, at Rafah city.
SOUNDBITE [English] Joe Catron, US Activist in Gaza: “I had the opportunity in 2012 to meet Rachel Corrie’s parents when they came shortly before the war I believe it was at the beginning of November, and now it is powerful experience of course, I think her death at the hands of Israelis in Rufah was a crystallizing moment for many American’s and it is bright to light circumstances here and what Palestinian experience on a daily bases over number of years in a way that unfortunately none of this Palestinian experiences had done upon till done.”
Narration: Those foreign solidarity activists who left their homes, welfare and prosperity, came to defend a homeland surrounded by death everywhere.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mahfouz Al- Kabariti, Project Manager at Gaza: “Activists around the world wither foreigners or Arabs are independent people, they do not follow a party, organization or any particular state, all there is they belong to humanity and international solidarity activities which witnessed a rise and growth in their numbers, despites of Israeli aggression against them continue to kill, terrorize, and bully them, also despite the Maritime piracy practiced by the Israeli navy at the sea in international waters, under the international silence.”
Narration: They move from one place to another in the Gaza strip, in order to show the fact that Israeli occupation is the cause of all that is happening to the Palestinian people from tragedies, pain, violation of every rights, and Inability to have normal life just like the rest of the people who live in this world.
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Charlie Andreasson, Swedish Activist in Gaza: “We had used to go out with fishermen before , I have been, I just once but it was not for fishing it was for media events since the Israeli more or less promises that fishermen that they gonna attack the fishing boat who had , recently had ,international activist on board, they are too afraid to have some on board .”
SOUNDBITE [English] Joe Catron, US Activist in Gaza: “Ours part on an earlier projects of civil peace services with Gaza which involved sending out monitoring boat the all over to a company fisherman and document Israeli crimes against them after Gaza coast unfortunately that boat was disabled in an Israeli attack and since then our opportunities to go to sea have been limited as it is clear that fisherman who have international activists on boarder for their target by Israelis not necessary then but some later points when were no longer on board.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mahfouz Al- Kabariti, Project Manager at Gaza: “The importance of activist’s existence is reflected in our just cause, there are increasing and growing in their numbers and belonging towards the Palestinian cause and its fairness, the media is now exposing Israeli attitudes that challenges all human rights and ignore all international treaties that secured the citizen’s rights of movement, freedom and work.”
Narration: In a unique move to break the siege on the Gaza Strip the foreign solidarity activists are building a boat which will sail from the port of Gaza to one of the European ports.If this journey achieves its goal, it will inaugurate this waterway linking the Gaza Strip to the outside world after being closed by the Israeli occupation since it was occupied in 1967.
SOUNDBITE [English] Charlie Andreasson, Swedish Activist in Gaza: “This is our building, here is a kitchen gonna be and I am standing in our dining room, her we have shower , toilet, facilities , yes now it is just a big empty room but it gonna be quiet even and here is a ending room from this board and the behind the building here is a house, cabins will gonna have between 12 to 15 person during crew members , its room for 4 persons and rest of the cabins for 2 persons, you can have a look inside if you like , here are some cabins , it is not a big area.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mahfouz Al- Kabariti, Project Manager at Gaza: “Currently the project is based on a set of international people in solidarity from many countries within the international alliance who came from Canada, Australia, America, Britain, Italy, France, South Africa, and many other countries around the world, they contribute to break the siege and open the only closed port in the Mediterranean through this project.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Charlie Andreasson, Swedish Activist in Gaza: “I have been here for even 6 months right now and I gonna be maybe for another 4 months. We already started to sell the products we gonna carry such as agricultural products, such as olive oil, carpets, handicrafts and that sort of things so all the products that we are carrying with us already sold already paid full and the European consumers are expecting to have their goods.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mahfouz Al- Kabariti, Project Manager at Gaza: “The goods are considered symbolic, and the aim is not to reach a specific party, the main aim is to transport this message and this boat through the Mediterranean to the whole world, in order to highlight the issue of the closed sea, or the issue of the only closed port in the Mediterranean, because of the Israelis practices, this message will reach whether the boat reaches any harbor in the Mediterranean or not, the main aim is that the journey continue to breaks the siege and return safely. That’s our goal.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Wael Ibrahim, Malaysian TV Correspondent: “Even though you have been projects so hard and the borders are too closed and you live in a big prison but you have the best achievement in all aspects of life in Gaza so I really respect that and it is very brave of you to have a normal life despite all this pressures.”