Gaza, Before and After

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This documentary looks into the hardships inflicted upon people of Gaza by Israel and the former Egyptian regime after Hamas won a fair election on January 25, 2006.

Narration:

On Wednesday the twenty fifth of January 2006, the Palestinians in Jerusalem, The West Bank, and Gaza went to the polls for the second legislative elections. The elections toke place under the supervision of international monitors headed by former American president Jimmy Carter.

Just as the voters finished casting their votes and polls closed, the international monitors braced the election process and described it as fair and free. But the elections results came opposite to what the appetite of some desired. Hamas was announced the winner with a majority, that gave it the power to form the tenth Palestinian government.

Around the world, when a new government is elected, it is showered with letters of support and congrats, as for the Hamas government it was showered with letters of threats and warnings, and it was sentenced to the death penalty.

Salah Albrdaweel - Hamas spokesperson – Palestinian Legislative Council:

The siege decision is a mainly political decision that was driven by Israel, the United States of America, and the former Egyptian Hussini Mubabrak regime which participated because it considers its self to be the sponsor of the settlement process in the region, and also because the former Egyptian regime thinks that Hamas is an Islamic movement that has references that relates or connects to the Islamic Brotherhood, and that its dangerous and its effects would reach the Egyptian side which would negatively influence the stability of the political regime that leads the settlement process in the region.

Narration:

In the beginning, the former Mubarak regime involvement in the siege of Gaza was represented in the closure of the Rafah border crossing, which is the only port and point that connect Gaza to the rest of the outside world, this port that is part of the Egyptian borders with Gaza was subject to an agreement in 2005 called the Rice agreement, the most important terms of that agreement included the presence of European monitors and cameras that feeds to the Israeli occupation army so that they can watch everything that happens inside the port.

Hussini Mubarak – Former Egyptian President:

Israel is responsible for securing all its borders, including those of the occupied territories, meaning from the North to the East to the South with our borders with the sea to before Gaza. The Rarah border crossing has its story, a long agreement, the agreement is that instead of Israeli presence, there would be a representative from the Palestinian authority, European monitors, and of course cameras remotely monitored by Israelis that watch what comes and goes. Now after Hamas came it kicked out the Palestinian authority and the European monitors, the situation became complicated.

Hussini Mubarak – Former Egyptian President:

We are now in a situation that is very embarrassing, now we are trying in various methods to find a solution. If you did not know, in order for the Rafah border crossing to be open there must be Egyptian, European, and Palestinian monitors, so the European monitors does not want to attend, therefore if we allowed things without prior arrangements, finger pointing and blame of us would begin.

Salah Albrdaweel - Hamas spokesperson – Palestinian Legislative Council:

Egypt was not part of this formula, this agreement was signed in November 2005 and was valid until November 2006, it was extended by 7 months to July 2007, and it was not extended after that, hence it became void.

The former Egyptian regime excuse states that opening the Rafah border crossing would throw Gaza in the face of Egypt, because it’s the only door for Gaza, and that would exempt Israel from responsibility towards Gaza. Does that mean that we have to bring back the occupation to Gaza again in order to exempt Arab nations from their responsibility of the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation.

Narration:

The closure of the Rafah border crossing sentenced the entire Gaza population to live in the world's biggest prison, size of the prison 362 square Kilometers, population 1.8 million, Gazans destiny became controlled by the Israeli occupation army and the Egyptian regime.

Abed-Allah Abed-Raboh - Palestinian Resistor From The Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement:

We lived for a long time were we could not reach neither the Eriz border nor Rafah border crossing, we were imprisoned in a few square kilometers in Gaza.

In 2009 after the Alforqan war, I was diagnosed with cancer, I managed to find some money and got ready to travel, my brother wanted to travel with me as a companion. Then some of my brethrens that were detained in Egypt returned home and we went to welcome them back, there they asked me how I was and what stage of treatment I have reached, so I told them that I was ready to travel for treatment, they answered (if you have a passport shred it, you won’t stand Egyptian interrogations and torture, if you go there, you will die there.

Narration:

Abed-Allah Abed Raboh listened to his friends advice and did not leave Gaza, as for Asmaa Obeid the student from the university of Aein Shams in Egypt, she had her own personal story with the Rafah crossing during the era of the removed Egyptian president (Hussni Mubarak).

Asmaa Obeid – Student – University of Aein Shams in Egypt:

Honestly our story with the crossing was very exhausting. I myself continued doing my masters degree for four years, because communicating with the Egyptian supervisor was very difficult and travel was impossible, I had to travel the risky way, it was a miracle that I got in, and of course we suffered on the Egyptian side just because we are Palestinians, it did not make a difference if you were a young or old man or woman, they treated us as if we were terrorists wanting to enter Egypt. Honestly I am not comfortable getting into the details.

Narration:

If some did not speak about the details of the treatment of Palestinians by Egypt's national security apparatus, Alla Abu-Dalal spoke about it, about when he traveled through the Rafah border crossing to perform the mandatory Haj.

Alaa Abu-Dalal – Palestinian Haj Pilgram:

The hardship in the port is that if you spend 2 hours waiting in the Palestinian side, it means spending 6 or 7 or 8 hours in the Egyptian side, after our passports are stamped, we are taken outside the crossing and then board buses under tight security, then get transferred to Alareesh airport. there you find elderly people lying on the ground, cancer and heart and other diseases patients that the Egyptian side does not care about. We leave the Palestinian borders as prisoners and when we move to the Egyptian territories we get treated just like prisoners, we are put under tight security during the transfer to Alareesh airport, and all the way until we start our trip to kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Narration:

That's how the Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza feel when they strike luck to leave Gaza, imprisoned in Gaza but when they cross into Egyptian territory they also get treated like prisoners, as for those who stay in Gaza, they just try to deal with the chains of the siege by staying alive.

Abu-Yousif – Tunnel Owner:

After Israel shut down all of Gaza's border crossings, we resorted to digging underground tunnels between Gaza and the Egyptian borders in order to bring in food supplies including children milk which enters Gaza in massive amounts in addition to sugar, flour, cheese, cooking oil, and other food stuff.

Narration:

According to United Nations reports and those of independent human rights organizations, the tunnels formed the only glimmer of hope in the face of a total catastrophe that nearly happened in Gaza, the tunnels also provided to thousands from the army of unemployed an opportunity to gain their daily wages in a job that often exposed them to death either due collapse of the tunnels on them or due to Israeli warplane bombings of the tunnels and the workers, or by Egyptian security officers who often released poisonous gas in the tunnels to intentionally kill the workers.

Tayseer Abu-Jamous - Brother of the Martyrs Osama and Mohamed:

After the complete closure of Gaza from all sides, the people of Gaza started brining in food, medicines, and necessities through tunnels, and of course who will have to do the job, it won't be done by the Egyptians nor the Jordanians nor any other descendant of Adam, the mission of bringing in the food supplies was at the expense of the Gaza people, they are the workers, they endanger their lives and souls.

Em Ismael Abu-Jamous - Mother of The Martyrs Mohamed and Osama:

Mohamed is married and has 2 daughters, Osama was a university student, they went to break the siege of Gaza, so they went to dig tunnels to bring in food supplies and gas for the people, these things were not available in Gaza, they would carry the gas tubes on their backs, they did it all for the people.

Narration:

The small holes in the walls of the siege on the people of Gaza irked the Israeli occupation which declared war on them, bombing the tunnels with earth quake causing missiles and bombs, but the constant bombings had little effects, which led the Israeli occupation to the sister nation of the Palestinian people, as it might participate in destroying the tunnels and killing those working in there.

Abu-Yousif - Tunnel Owner:

The previous Egyptian regime, specifically its intelligence and national security apparatus, used to release poisonous gas in any tunnel they find, this used to kill the workers inside the tunnels, one day four were killed by the Egyptian poisonous gas.

Tayseer Abu-Jamous - Brother of the Martyrs Osama and Mohamed:

The Egyptian security forces discovered the entrance of the tunnel, then vehicles of the explosives unit arrived and opened the entrance of the tunnel and released gas in it. Everyone was surprised because several times before they were hit by gas, and rescuers would get the tunnel workers out, but this time all the people said that this gas was strange, and that they have not smelled it before, about 6 workers were in the tunnel, 2 got out and 4 died including my two brothers Mohamed and Osama.

Narration:

The 20 years old Osama who did not finish school (departed), and his brother Mohamed departed too, leaving behind his 2 daughters and a wife pregnant with the third.

Em Ismael Abu-Jamous - Mother of The Martyrs Mohamed and Osama:

Mohamed is married and has 2 daughters, after he died his wife gave birth to the third, she did not get to see her father, now she is getting raised without a father. Mohamed daughters are just little children.

Narration:

This is Gaza, people leave and some arrive after them. The Israeli occupation and its allies could not stand the resilience of Gazans and their insistence on resisting the siege. The truth hit when the former Israeli foreign affairs minister Tsefy Leviny threatened with her famous words" enough means enough to the situation in Gaza", this declaration of war did not come from Tel-Aviv but from Cairo the capital of an Arab nation that scarified thousands of martyrs in several wars against the Israeli occupation for the sake of Palestine.

Ahmed Abu-Alghit - Former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Over an extended period of time, Egypt warned and warned, and those who dodged understanding this warning must take responsibility. The Israeli prim-minister said that you have to stop or we will do this and that in response. Response to what? Response to not renewing clam and launching 60 rockets on the night Leviny was in Egypt.

Narration:

The issues went beyond that when the Israeli TV channel 10 broadcasted a report in which Egypt's foreign affairs minister Ahmed Alghit appeared while justifying the war on Gaza.

Leviny fulfilled her promise, the war on Gaza toke place in 2008 – 2009. This war that lasted for 22 days killed 1500 Palestinians mostly women, children, and elderly people, another 1500 got injured and the border did not open for them to get treatment, nor to allow the entry of medical supplies which could have eased their pain.

Salah Albrdaweel - Hamas spokesperson – Palestinian Legislative Council:

Its a shame that the criminal terrorist Tsevy Leviny stood in front of 80 million Egyptians, in front of 300 million Arabs and said from an Egyptian platform (I will declare war), from there the war against the weak and besieged people of Gaza began, Arabs and Moslems getting murdered by white phosphorus, and F16 warplanes the American war machine crushing everything in Gaza. This decision was taken while former Egyptian foreign affairs minister did not respond with single word.

Narration:

The wounds of Gaza did not even intercede from the conspiracies to destroy it, as Leviny looked to Gazans again through the doors of Egypt, looking to implement an agreement signed in Washington between Leviny and American foreign affairs minister Rice in 2009, the most important term in the agreement was the construction of an under ground steel wall on the Egyptian border with Gaza, to cut the way for the tunnels, one billion dollars was assigned for this project, it was the former Egyptian regime responsibility to construct this steel wall and indeed Egypt began mobilizing large machines to build this steel wall so that the siege of Gaza would become from above and bellow the ground.

Abu-Yousif - Tunnel Owner:

The steel wall would go 30 meters deep in the ground, which meant that anyone who had a tunnel with an entrance 25 meters deep, would have to close it. So this steel wall shut down almost all of our work, so there was less goods and tunnel work, hence workers went out of work and less goods entered Gaza. Regarding this steel wall, it would go 30 meters underground, another 15 – 30 meters you hit underground water, so this killed the border area between Gaza and Egypt.

Narration:

The construction of the underground steel wall continued, and the Egyptian regime continued to crack down on Gaza in numerous ways, including blocking the return of luggage belonging to Haj pilgrims, and keeping their luggage held in Cairo airport.

Abu-Anas Alnajar - Operations Director of Shbair Company for Haj and Umrah:

The pile up of goods and lack of ability to absorb it on the Egyptian side resulted in the exposure of pilgrims luggage to awful circumstances thus it was either destroyed or lost, and the exceptional security circumstances in Egypt at that time also resulted in excessive lose of pilgrim's luggage and parcels.

Salem Abed-Elal - Director Of The Department of Umrah, Haj, and Endowments In Gaza:

The pilgrims luggage were held for about 5 months. Egypt refused entry of the pilgrims luggage sighting that there were not any security permissions nor checks.

This was part of the siege policies imposed on Gaza, it was a disruption operation for moving pilgrims and travelers luggage.

Narration:

Gaza continued to complain its misery and sadness to God, until January 25th, 2011 when the people of Egypt began their glorious revolution were millions went out in the streets and squares in massive demonstrations and protests, hundreds got killed, and thousands injured at the hands of the Egyptian security apparatus that did not spare an effort to stop the revolution that lasted for 17 days and which in the end was crowned with the announcement of the step down of a leader that ruled for three decades.

Omar Suliman - Director of Egyptian Intelligence Services:

In the name of the forgiving merciful God. O citizens, in this difficult circumstances that our nation is experiencing, the president Hussni Mubarak decided to step down from the republic's presidency position, and he instructed the armed forces supreme council to manage the country's affairs. God Blesses and is the Conciliator.

Narration:

The Mubarak regime fell and the people won, and expressed their victory in celebrations that filled the streets of Egypt's towns and villages. The same situation was reflected on the people of Gaza who predicted good from Egypt and its people.

Salah Albrdaweel - Hamas spokesperson – Palestinian Legislative Council:

The Egyptian revolutionists kept Gaza in their consciousness, they used to shout in the name of Palestine and Gaza in the Tahrir Square and against the president who besieged Gaza. After the revolution victory we found all Zionist threats to Gaza would get countered by Egyptian gatherings of protests around the Zionist embassy. Later the Rafah border crossing opened, the blessings of this work was due to the brotherly and religious and strategic relation between Palestine and Egypt.

Asmaa Obeid Student – Ein Shams Univerity in Egypt:

Of course now we enter with respect without questions, they do not even ask for the university papers, it was enough for me to write that I am traveling to study, there were no problems. Even inside Egypt we started to say I am Palestinian with pride and glory, thanks to God.

Abu-Yousif - Tunnel Owner:

Regarding the tunnels, the situation now became different from the previous one, almost 180 degrees change. Any side present during the previous regime was now gone, the machines gone, the Americans gone, the Europeans gone, all gone from the border. Now there are no harassments regarding the tunnels .

Narration:

And this Abed-Allah entered Egypt safely, maybe he will heal from his illness just like Egypt healed from the former regime.

Abed-Allah Abed-Raboh - Palestinian Resistor – The Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement:

When the revolution happened in Egypt, it decreased my illness by 50% and made many things alot easier for me.

On the 8th of June 2011, I traveled to Egypt and stayed there for 25 days getting treatment in Maahed Naser Hospital, I would get so happy when I sit with the youth of the revolution and talk – I felt that we were one body.

Tsefy Liveny:

Hamas must confess that Israel will not accept this situation – enough enough.

-The Swearing:

In accordance with Article 67 in the political law of the Palestinian National Authority which narrates that after their trustfulness is proved and obtained and before they commence their duties, the prim-minister and the members of his government perform in front of the Palestinian National Authority president the constitutional swearing provided in Article 35 of the fundamental law, thus the prim-minister and minister of youth and sports professor Ismael Hanya step forward to take the constitutional oath.

In the name of the forgiving merciful God, I swear in the name of God the great, that I will be loyal to the country and its sanctities, people, and national heritage, and to respect the constitutional order and law, and to comprehensively look after the benefits of the Palestinian people, God is the witness of what I say.

   

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