Archive for April, 2012

Tuesday 10th April, 2012, Beit Hanoon, 
We gathered Tuesday morning for the weekly demonstration in Beit Hanoun. As we prepared to walk towards the buffer zone, a pathway carved by hundreds of footprints over many years, something was different. There was the usual determination to make it to the ditch”, the usual amount of fear as to what may happen, but add to this , an extra feeling of solidarity.This march, which Vik had done so many times, was this day being done in his name, his memory, his honour……so said the T-shirts,  , the banners, the posters, the Palestinian and Italian flags and so said our hearts, our faces and our choice of songs. Most of us there had our own memories of him and those that didn’t , heard the stories so often they now felt they knew him too
.Thursday 12th April, 2012, Beit Lahia

Out of the mouths of Babes……..

Beit Lahiya’s children laid on an afternoon of celebration of “Vik” on thursday afternoon, A celebration most welcomed for those of us who attended another court session that morning . As adults, we sometimes tend to focus on the bad memories but children realize the importance of celebrating and remembering life. Through Drama, song and dance they portrayed Vik as he should be remembered , Happy, Loud , Alive !!!. They made us dance to his favourite songs, clap to their dances of his favourite music, . They depicted in drama Vik’s work with farmers and fishermen, but also  his playing with Palestines children, We laughed, we danced , we sang and as they brought Vik back to us for a little while on stage, we , all of us, men and women, friends, and colleagues, allowed the tears to fall for him.

Saturday 14th April, 2012

Gaza , El Meena, ( Gaza Port) , 10.30 a.m.

Most of this week we have found ourselves focused on what has changed in Gaza, what or rather who is missing but unfortunately some things never change. As we gathered with the fishermen, Shots ring out and a fishing boat is towed back to Port by fellow fishermen, Its engine shot out, the crews livelihood destroyed by Israeli gun fire , well inside the 3 mile limit,  unilaterally imposed by Israel .

Yet still, after speeches , and photographs the fishermen, along with Internationals clambered into the CPS Boat, ” Oliva” and one other fishing boat laden with flowers and took to sea. We slowly headed out, singing” Onadikom” perhaps not “totally Synchronised between the 2 boats! Not very far out, ( lack of  fuel for the boats)  We stopped and threw the flowers in the water, the same waters Vik fished so many times with the Palestinian fishermen he loved and respected and who loved, respected and now missed him.

A few hours later , on a blank wall just up from the port, Vik’s picture emerged. A mural of Vik and Handala together, along with his name, near the building he lived in, near the Port he frequented, a reminder for all of his presence………Always here!!

Sunday 15th April, Avenue Hotel, Gaza city

Many of us gathered again on the actual day of his anniversary in Avenue Hotel.  The proposed link up with Italy could not take place due to electricity problems so  a downloaded video from Italy was played. The children from Beit Lahiya again came to sing for us, some young Palestinian children played “Bella Ciao”, many spoke of  Their personal stories of vik, A young boy, Mahmoud Samouni spoke poignantly of his friendship with Vik as a video of the Samouni family was played. We sat together and chatted and remembered  mostly the good times, the memories we should always remember…..

Vik will never be forgotten and his words to us, ” STAY HUMAN” should also never be forgotten…..

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Pictures and video’s by Jeff Bright, Rosa Schiano, Hussien Amody, عبد الحليم ابو ناموس and Omar El Qattaa. 

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Cps Gaza is in urgent financial need to purchase critical equipment needed for the boat, general running coasts and repairs.
The Oliva is a small motor vessel manned by international observers monitoring  human rights violations against Palestinian fishermen in Palestinian territorial water.
Since one year, Oliva has been accompanying Palestinian fishermen off of the coast of Gaza on an average of three times per week. The crew of the Oliva boat is composed by a Palestinian captain and international observers. The crew, equipped with video cameras and radios to maintain permanent contact with the land team, has reported and documented several threats and attacks by the Israeli Navy towards fishermen even within the 3 nautical miles limit unilaterally imposed by Israel: firing at small fishing boats, circling them, swamping them by water cannon.
The Oliva itself has become a target, with repeated assaults on it by military navy vessels.
Since the launch of the Oliva, hundreds of fishermen have been shot at, dozens have been arrested, including children, numerous have been injured and several vessels have been confiscated.
Israel has been unilaterally imposing restrictions on Palestinian fishermen’s access to the sea, progressively reducing this area from 20 nautical  miles to currently 3 nautical miles, preventing the fishermen to access 85 per cent of the maritime areas they are entitled to according to the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement.
Due to these restrictions in the past ten years the number of active fishermen  has dramatically reduced by 65% and is down to 3,500 people.
It is only with you help that the Oliva can continue to protect and monitor the palestinians territorial waters and allow Palestinian fishermen to work in safe conditions.
Cps Gaza calls on organisations and individuals to insure the continuation of the project.
Show your solidarity with the Palestinian fishermen by contributing  as much or as little as possible.
There are several ways to contribute to the work of Civil Peace Service Gaza
You can donate with Paypal following the DONATE link on the CPSGaza websitehttp://www.cpsgaza.org/
Or you can send your donation to the CPSG bank account
Account holder: Associazione per la Pace – Banca Popolare Etica
Reason for transfer: OLIVA – GAZA
IBAN: IT 27 F 05018 03200 000000504090
BIC: CCRTIT2T84A (only for foreign transfers)Also, you can send your donation directly to the CPSG bank account in Gaza
(wire tranfer fees will be approximately 20 €)
Account holder: Palestinian Association for Fishing and Marine Sports
Reason for transfer: OLIVA – GAZA
Bank of Palestine
Bank No 89
Remal Branch – Gaza
Account No 107137
Branch No. 454
Swift code: PALSPS22
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Easter in the Orthodox Church, Gaza city, Palestine. This year the Orthodox easter was celebrated one week after the Catholic congregation celebrated Easter.

The Church of Saint Porphyrius (or St. Porphyrius ChurchArabic: كنيسة القديس برفيريوس‎) is the Orthodox Christian church of Gaza, and the oldest active church in the city. Located in the Zaytun Quarter of the Old City, it is named after the 5th century bishop of Gaza, Saint Porphyrius, whose tomb is situated in the northeastern corner of the church.


Pictures by Jeffrey Bright Photojournalist ( facebook)

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Last Friday myself and Rosa went out with the fishermen again, this time we went with the sardine boats.

We left port at about 6 o’clock (18.00) and stayed out for 12 hours. As we headed out we talked to the crew and they filled us in on the normal procedures and what was likely to happen.Normally they head out to close to the 3 mile limit ( which over the past few years has got smaller, 2006 , 20 miles, 2008 , 12 miles and  2010 6 miles and by 2012 , 3 miles).

When we reached the fishing grounds 100 to 150 meters short of the 3 mile limit , we dropped anchor and waited for sunset, while waiting we all sat chatted and had something to eat. As we sat we were well aware of the Israeli gun boats in our vicinity but were quite happy that they were leaving us alone.But things changed after sunset, as we tried to scan the horizon looking for faint silhouettes, out of the darkness at high speed came a gun boat. At first , in complete darkness and then about 75 to 100 meters away from us, it turned on its high beam spot light, followed seconds later by burst of gun fire from its GPMG. We tried to signal to them that we were inside the 3 mile limit but to no avail they just kept on coming around and shooting at us and the 2 small hasakas we were towing behind but at this stage had 2 fishermen in them. At this point the captain decided to lift anchor and move back to 2.5 mile.

On reaching our new ground we started down to work but the captain and crew knew that their catch would not be as good , as these grounds are over fished and stocks are depleted.As you will see in the video,  the first catch is very small and not good quality.But when times are hard you take what ever you can.

At about 01.30 in the morning the captain made the decision to head back out again , this time about 250 meter’s short of the 3 mile limit. That doesn’t sound like a big distance, just over a quarter of a mile, but their next catch was 3 times the size of their first catch.

While taking in this catch we knew the gun boat wasn’t far away as it shone its spot light on us on several occasions, but if the fishermen didn’t go out that far they wouldn’t have made enough to pay themselves. For them,  this is part of daily life as most the fishermen in Gaza have either been shot at or arrested or both.While talking to the crew, one after another showed me where they had been shot, most in the legs and some in the arms.

Fishermen the world over understand the dangers of regular fishing, heavy equipment, rough seas and being a big distance from any help. So to add an additional complication of been shot at makes the job virtually impossible.

At about 06.00 we  headed back to port with what I would consider a poor catch for 12 hour but the crew were happy with  20 boxes of sardines and of  course one small bag of fish for breakfast for myself and Jenny.

click here for video:       sardine fishing , gaza

As always, your support is needed and much appreciated. Please continue to read and share the blog, for donations, there is a Paypal donate button on the top of each post or contact us via email for information . jennygraham7@gmail.com

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Easter 2012…..Sunday 8-April 2012
Fr. Jorge  Hernandez is the Parish Priest , originally from Argentina, in Holy family Catholic Church. Their are 3 different orders of nuns in Gaza who also run a home for the elederly, a centre for the disabled, a kindergarten and a school.
From a  total population of 1,5 million, the Christian community of Gaza is made up of 2.500. Catholics are about 300. This year, Israel was expected to “allow” 500 Christians to leave Gaza to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem
We were honoured to celebrate Easter service in Gaza this year .
Pictures by Jeff Bright, facebook Jeffrey Bright Photojournalist

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Saturday  night ,  It was my  ( DEREK) honour along with an ISM activist, Rosa, to accompany one of the fishing boats in Gaza on a 12 hour fishing trip. We headed to the Port at 5 p.m. to meet with  Captain Saber  and his 3 crewmen and were ready to leave at 6.30  p.m. as we had to wait for fuel to arrive.


As we were leaving port,I felt privileged when the captain called me to the wheel house, asked me to take the  wheel and take the boat out towards the fishing ground. Although i am used to boats, this proved a little bit more difficult than normal as many of the smaller boats, Hasaka’s,  drop their nets quiet close to the port


My sense of privilege soon turned to annoyance when, less than 2 miles, we could already see that the Israeli boats were well inside the 3 mile limit. This meant that the fishermen were now forced to fish inside 2 miles as they feared that the Israelis would either arrest them and confiscate their boats or shoot at the boat injuring or killing some of us on board or damage the boat and /or her equipment. So, dropping the nets , we started our first 3 hour trawl.

Once the nets were dropped, we have an oppertunity to chat with the fishermen. On board the boat there was a captain and 3 deck hands, who each have stories of kidnap by Israel, Captain  3 times, one deck hand 3 times, one deck hand twice and third deck hand has so far been lucky….so far…


After 3 hours we haul the net for the first time. It was a great experience seeing a trawler in full operation and witnessing the fine tuned art of running a trawler, but this quickly turned to disgust when we opened the end of the net to find approximately only 9 kilo’s of fish. We started sorting the fish into different boxes. Unlike most places in the world, if you are  trawling for shrimp,  you just take the shrimp and throw the rest back, but not here. Nearly everything that was caught was boxed, down to fish 2 inches long. But the fishermen, not losing hope, dropped their nets to continue on with another 3 hour haul.

So, for the next 3 hours we had time to chat with the fishermen. We spoke about how the siege directly affects their industry. In 2006, they were able to fish to 20 miles, in line with the Oslo accord, since then, the limit has been reduced, illegally, to now in 2012 where it is “allegedly” 3 miles. Regularly, any fishing vessel coming close to 3 miles are harassed, shot at or arrested. As there are so many fishermen trying  to make a living in such a small area , the grounds are overfished and fish stocks are depleted.


As we chatted, one of the deck hands gathered up a kilo of fish and cooked it up on the boat. Under moonlight, Rosa and I enjoyed freshly cooked fish , with good company and conversation. There is nothing more satisfying in this word than to be among friends, share their labour , share their stories and share their food…….. fish fresh from the catch .


Satisfaction was short lived and turned to anger as catch after catch came in as small as the first. We made our last haul at approximately 6 .30 and by the end of a 12 hour shift, the crew had caught approximately 50 kilo of fish. To put this into perspective, 50 kilo of fish at 15 shekels a kilo is 750 shekels. They spent 600 shekels on fuel for the night’s work, this leaves 150 shekels for the boat owner, the captain and the 3 deck hands. As the boat owner and captain would take a slightly bigger share, it leaves very little for the deck hands.

One euro is approx. 5 shekels or one dollar is approx 3.8 shekel.  So, after paying for fuel, the entire crew, including boat owner are let with 30 euro between them for a 12 hour shift.

These are all family men trying to survive, on this type money, under a siege…………..family men trying to survive in Gaza.

And finally ,


off to bed….

Click below for video.

fishing in gaza

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The palestinian ” sailing team’ have arrived bck from Algeria, This is Habeeb’s report.

Habeeb Kabbariti reports from Algeria’

Our first time to sail on the Laser Racing boats………Soon Insh’allah we will have our own in Gaza.

We began our  training in Egypt on the Nile with Egyptian coach , Ahmed Abdelmenem from the Egyptian  Sailing Federation for 6 days . Although we had been attending classes with Derek in Gaza and had some chance to sail the Catamaran in Gaza, this was our first time to sail with Lasers.

At the end of the sixth day, we met with Mohammed Essam , Mohammed is responsible for the sailing activities in the Egyptian sailing Federation and we were invited to lunch where we exchanged gifts

Friday 9-March -2012 ,We travelled  to Algeria to begin our training there.On Arrival,  we met Ryad Alabbar,  President of  The Algerian Sailing Federation and some of the other teams

Immediately , the next day  we began our  training with the International Sailing Federation and the Algerian coaches and they were very helpful to us  We felt so bad because the wind was strong and the sea conditions were very different than sailing  on the Nile but this is all part of our sailing experience

 Afterward’s  we started to enjoy the training and we got better .During these days we also had some   physical training ,  and physical and  medical tests .   We also got to meet up with   the other teams  from Algeria , Morocco , Tunisia , Sudan and Kenya . All of them offered us their support and helped us  a lot and said they were  very happy for our participation

On  the last day each class had a friendly race , in my class ( laser radial ) there were the Palestinian team, , a team from  Sudan and  a team from Algeria. I took the first place , Ismail Gamal (Palestinian) took  second place and Yassin from Sudan)  took the third place  and we were presented with our prizes

The International Sailing Federation promised to try to help , We  were very lucky to meet Teresa Lara,  Vice President of the International Sailing Federation, we discussed our problems with her with regards to sailing in Palestine and the difficuties we face

Of course,  the classes we are now attending  with Derek in Gaza  proved to be very helpful

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 ,  Hope to soon have good news on the dinghies in Cyprus , Although i am not usually superstitious i am not saying too much yet ,  just in case

As i mentioned before, the sailing school and its success will always be down to the help of a lot of people and your continued support . We believe it is the right of all Palestinians , as it is the right of every nationality , to have access to their own waters , the right of every child to have the chance of a childhood and the right of every human being to have the right of return to their own country and the sea  will one day, insh’alah, give Gaza this freedom

To donate to the school or to any of our projects in Gaza, there is a paypal donate button on each of our posts or contact us via email ,  jennygraham7@gmail.com for more information or for bank details

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