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Families of Gaza war victims protest lack of aid

Palestinian government has failed the families who need its assistance the most, demonstrators say.

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Protesters expressed anger at the perceived disconnect between the PA’s statements of support for the families of those who lost relatives in the Gaza war, and its failure to provide for these families

Gaza City – Despite the sweltering July heat, Fatima Arief has been camping out in Gaza City for two weeks in an effort to press the Palestinian government for financial compensation after the death of her husband and son during the 2014 Gaza war.

Israeli fighter jets shelled the family’s home in Shujayea, in eastern Gaza, two years ago, killing Arief’s husband and one of their sons. Since then, she has struggled to put food on the table for her five grandchildren.

“Their loss has placed my family in deeper financial peril,” Arief, 61, told Al Jazeera. “How dare [PA officials] say that the martyrs and injured are the most honourable, while they abandon their vulnerable families?”

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Some families have set up tents to sleep in the protest camp overnight

She is just one among hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza who have taken to the streets this month – some even setting up tents to sleep in the protest camp overnight – to demand payment from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Amid a dire economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, thousands of residents have not received their monthly allowances from the PA, making it increasingly difficult for them to survive.

Protesters say they will remain on the streets until their demands to receive aid are met – although the long days in the gruelling heat have already taken a toll.

“We are treated as if we are beggars, though we are demanding our genuine rights,” Arief’s daughter-in-law, Salwa, told Al Jazeera.

INTERACTIVE: 24 Hours in Gaza

Many of the protesters expressed anger at the perceived disconnect between the PA’s statements of support for the families of those who lost relatives in the Gaza war, and its failure to provide for these families.

In the two years since the war, residents of the besieged Gaza Strip have arranged numerous protests to highlight their struggle.

Mohammed el-Nahhal, who heads a foundation for victims’ families that is affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), noted that the names of affected families have been sent to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

I cannot work to feed my children, and instead of being seriously helped, I am forced to take part in long, tiring protests to ask for my rights so that I can rescue my family.

Othman el-Othmani, Gaza resident

“We are waiting for the Palestinian leadership’s order to recognise these families’ files so that they can get their allowances,” Nahhal said, noting that the territory’s ongoing financial crisis, along with political divisions, have both played a role in the delays.

Back in Gaza, Amal Abdelelall explained how her son died after an Israeli jet bombed a neighbour’s house in the southern city of Rafah.

“We have been protesting for two years now, and it seems that this is not long enough to urge the PA to put an end to our ordeal,” Abdelelall told Al Jazeera, with her seven-month-old daughter nestled in her lap.

“They are pushing us towards the edge,” added Alaa el-Barawi, the spokesperson for a committee representing victims’ families in Gaza. This is why the protests have escalated to the point where families are camping out overnight and participating in hunger strikes to raise awareness of their plight, he said.

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In addition to financial aid, the protesting families are requesting medical and educational assistance from the PA

According to Barawi, the PLO had promised to end the crisis before Ramadan, but the holiday came and went without any progress. Many protesters hold Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas personally responsible, noting that he has the power to order the immediate disbursement of funds.

Families of those killed in the Gaza war are concerned that their political leanings may be a factor in the delay of aid. Despite a recent unity deal between Abbas’s Fatah party and Gaza’s Hamas, persistent divisions remain.

A PA spokesperson did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on the matter.

In addition to financial aid, the protesting families are requesting medical and educational assistance from the PA, Barawi said.

Othman el-Othmani, who has been rendered unable to continue his work in the construction field after sustaining severe leg injuries in the 2014 war, says it has become extremely difficult for him to care for his family.

“I cannot work to feed my children, and instead of being seriously helped, I am forced to take part in long, tiring protests to ask for my rights so that I can rescue my family,” Othman, 36, told Al Jazeera, while leaning against a crutch.

(Source / 25.07.2016)

Tags: #ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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