08 August 2004

Some good news to leaven the bad.

Charity No. 1100119

In spite of inadequate media coverage of the occupation in the remnants of Palestine, you will be in no doubt that Palestinians are suffering more and in all respects. A UN sponsored report is summarized as follows:-

BEIRUT, July 30, 2004 (Reuters) - Economic and living conditions are getting worse for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem as a result of Israeli occupation, a U.N. report said on Friday.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said two million Palestinians were living on less than $2.1 a day, a poverty rate of 63 percent, in mid-2003.

By March 2003, 42 percent of families were destitute and dependent on humanitarian assistance. ESCWA said the World Bank had described the recession in the Palestinian territories as "one of the worst in modern history".

"The present review period demonstrates mounting economic and social damage under military occupation," the ESCWA report researched between January 2003 and February 2004 and released on Friday in Beirut said.

"Most economic and social data show marked deterioration of living conditions for the Palestinian people, including new forms of dispossession and destruction of private and public assets of all kinds."

Refugees, women and children bore the brunt of Israeli measures, ESCWA said. Malnutrition was on the rise. Israeli restrictions regularly impeded humanitarian services to Palestinian territories.

Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and has stationed troops there since. The United Nations describes them as Israeli-occupied territories.


ESCWA said Israel had intensified extra-judicial killings of Palestinians suspected of armed attacks against Israelis. Extra-judicial killings or attempts killed 349 Palestinians between October 2000 and March 2004, including 137 bystanders.
Between December 2002 and December 2003 ESCWA said 785 Palestinians were killed and 5,130 injuries recorded. Since September 2000, 512 Palestinian children were killed. ESCWA said 946 Israelis had been killed or injured since September 2000.

About 8,000 Palestinians remained in Israeli prisons and detention centres. Hundreds were subjected to torture or inhumane treatment.

Unemployment stood at 26 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, but reached 70 percent in some areas. Food consumption was down by 86 percent.

"Humanitarian assistance is not sufficient to ensure a sustainable life with dignity and rights for the Palestinian civilians under occupation," the report said.
"The sustainable option for addressing the current economic and social deprivation lies in lifting the occupation of the Palestinian territory, as well as the Syrian Golan."

In the Syrian Golan Heights, annexed by Israel in 1981, ESCWA said Israeli settlements continue to expand. It said access to natural resources and social services like schooling and medical facilities were inadequate for the Arab population.

Whilst a political solution is awaited, we continue to do our bit to bring some real help and comfort to the poorest children.

The first container finally arrived in Gaza on Christmas day after spending 4 months in Israel. It was filled with some new clothes, beautiful hand made garments and second hand clothes/blankets. Derriford Hospital had kindly donated a redundant ultrasound machine. This has been installed in the Dier Albalah Hospital, Khan Younis. This is run by a charitable society. A printer has been purchased for the machine, which is proving very useful indeed. The 1.4 tons of waste carpet wool will be purchased by Sawaf. The 3 tons of medical supplies were widely distributed.

The second container left the UK on March 12th. The contents had been gathered together mostly by the Exeter Friends of Palestine and they were diverse. There was just enough room in the 40ft container to squeeze in the last items. It was received on the Israeli side by ANERA, an American charity with a long history there and with representatives in Israel and ‘Palestine’. It was off loaded into the ANERA warehouse in Khan Younis. Because of the house demolitions and the many injuries/killings in Rafah, the clothes and toys were sent directly there. The many items of medical equipment were sent to the Al Wafah hospital in Gaza.

We arranged for special feeding fluid to be sent to this latter hospital which cares for some very disabled patients. Dr Khamis Elessi has ‘phoned and written in joyful appreciation of our gifts. I will be taking some special tracheostomy tubes there in October.

£7000 were sent to our bank account in Gaza in April for the making of handsome uniforms by the Association of Young Muslim Women and the manufacture in Gaza of good school bags. The latter will have the Dove and Dolphin logo on the backs. The bags will be filled with school books, pencils etc and an individual present for each child. All were ready in June. They will be given to the poorest children ready for school in September.

Louise Bold, a young teacher, has made a standing order of £15 per month to support a young scholar and his family. Among other things, Mohammed now has the luxury of a fold down desk to help him study in his simple home. We hope to expand this loving and very practical scheme.

There is much else I could say. When and if we visit in October, we hope to agree to rent part of an office at a low rent. We also intend to employ a young man or woman part-time to represent us and to manage distribution, find where there is special need and to record progress or snags. We must not rely for too much longer on Adli Hammad, Abu-Ali and their friends for everything. We also intend to take a second-hand digital camera so we can have some encouraging images e-mailed back for distribution and for posting on the web site.

Salaam and Shalom. David Halpin FRCS