01 February 2010

Solidarity with the occupied people of Palestine. The reality now in Gaza.

I 'phoned my brother doctor, Khamis Elessi last Juma. It was late and he sounded tired. Salaam alaikum. My usual question 'How are you and how are the people?' 'Fine, fine'. But not so fine. He had trouble charging his mobile 'phone. The electricity is now off for 90% of the time throughout the Gaza 'Strip'.
The supply of diesel from Israel has been cut back greatly. Khamis says the EU, which pays for the fuel, has been encouraged to cut its funding by 'President' Abbas and PM Fayyad. It is no guess which entity has leant on these Ramallah figures. I am being blunt in this because the torment of the people in the remnants of Palestine grows by the week.

The sound of drones above is constant. Some of these will be for surveillance but others will have Hellfire thermobaric missiles in their bellies for assassination. They are invisible, their presence betrayed by the droning and the disturbed TV image. I ask about solidarity. This is strained by the idleness; 50% of the men are unemployed and 80% of the population living below the poverty line and dependent on food aid. It is not easy to imagine this in warm, largely over fed and mostly self obsessed British homes just how much our sisters and brothers are suffering there. Some politicians utter hollow words of sympathy, but things just get worse – and against all international and moral law. 'Do unto others as you would them do to you'.

The trustees of the Dove and Dolphin Charity met today in the warm and with the sun lighting the beautiful moorland behind our house. We had to approve the Trustees Report and Annual Accounts for the Charity Commission. These were prepared at the cost of considerable time and knowledge by the accountant and auditor.

The wonderful news of the success and expansion of the Al Jazeera Sports Club for the Disabled was recorded. Most recently, disabled men had returned from Japan with 11 medals. They are determined to represent Palestine to the highest level. I imagine they have the Olympics as their goal. The D&D provided $30,000 to make a grassed sports ground. We will probably be funding some part of the training of 50 disabled children.

We also helped the Turathona Heritage Society in Beit Lahia with $9000. This society works to preserve the cultural heritage of Palestine. Embroidery, carving, art works etc are sold in other Arab countries thus providing work, some income and the threads of memory. There is a large kindergarten there as well.

The Dove and Dolphin flag flies outside today because it was on this day 7 years ago that the Barbara steamed away from Torquay, bound for Ashdod 3.100 sea miles away. It took 50 tons of good food, wool, medical supplies and clothes as a symbol of our common humanity. The voyage was a cry for Palestine and a shout against the looming war on a broken Iraq. John Hingley was on the vessel and he is still with us as a trustee. So also were the busker John Maugham and Stuart Lawley, my right hand man!

The voyage towards justice continues. We get overwhelmed by sadness and by the smallest details in running a charity, but the resilience of the Palestinian restores our strength and hope.

Salaam alaikum David Halpin FRCS

Our 10th newsletter is being printed. It will also be published online http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/

Read Young Love 26 August 2009

Picture - John Hingley and Stuart Lawley on the Barbara