Category Archives: Out of Gaza



For Syria, Somalia, and the all oppressed around the world…

Can you see?
through the frail body
the heart of innocence
shrinking gradually…
One breath in…
a soul too feeble
for a breath out…
humanity drowns
humanity is a draught

Can you see?

The bloodbath
the bodies in the path
lying above the ground
like peace is found
under the coffin of a tank
darkness prevails
humanity fails

Can you hear?
The minarets
The church’s bells
are they gaged?
or ears are deafened?
by the scratching of
heavy shelling….
hear their calls
from your inside
hear their prayers
beating in your heart…
your humanity will survive 
your humanity is alive


“Free to write”


The revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya against the tyrants have been overwhelming. As these uprisings are filling many across the Middle East with inspiration, I wrote this poem.

Universal verse

Written with ink of blood
And chants of loving life

Ornamented with thrones of freedom
Roses spread on shrouds and cradles.

Rhymed by bullets defied with screams :
“It’s peaceful, peaceful, peaceful…”

Figures of hope, of love, of salvation
fill the beat with the rise of new generation

Chains breaking, the iron relenting
crack the tone with beautiful redemption

The tirades on screens
of tyrants who lost the feet
and chose to be
the omitted part of
a historic poetry

In universal verse,
I, you, we, is one
our differences are metaphors united by love

Millions of lines
made poems of and for
death and life…
anger, despair
Night and day…
But today,
sparked inspiration
inflamed passions
and broke fragile façade of fear
and I am no longer written
I am No longer afraid to live
I am no longer afraid to die
I am free  to write….

The Trials and Tribulations of a Palestinian student


“Aha, I found it” the recourse that I’ve been desperately looking for. Then I happily whispered to myself, “what the world would be like without Google books to solve my academic impasses?!” Signs of relief relaxed my facial expressions that had been worn out by looking for resources for my paper.

Excitingly, I scrolled down the page of Google books, but I got hit by every student’s nightmare “limited preview” message. “DAMN” still whispering to myself!  But driven by the need to finish the paper, I thought one omitted page wouldn’t do any harm, but for my surprise, it’s the whole topic being included in the limited preview!

After I am struck by the Google Books slap, the electricity slaps the other cheek. 8 hour outage, one can sleep, eat, but electricity is needed to write the paper, after all it’s the 21st century, and no one hands a hand-written paper!

So, I ended up bookless, powerless, and hopeless, and this is part of the academic trials and tribulations of a Palestinian student who wants to graduate!

Universities in Palestine, Gaza for most, provide the students with access to the central university library only.  So, academic journals, books, and articles if not found for free on internet are not accessible to Palestinian students not even to their teachers.

The central university library is as poor as Gaza. It may have some really valuable books, but, by the end of the term gusts of check outs leave the library barren of its already arid content. Plus, the library does not always contain books that suit the topic of your choice.

As a result, our teachers often warn us “choose a topic which has recourses” So if you like a topic, but you found no accessible resources; you must completely change your topic. In the end, JSTOR will deny you access unless you show it your nonexistent money, and Google Books slammed the door in your face, so you show your nonexistent money.

So, bookless, hopeless, and powerless Palestinian student…what to do?!

As I am writing my Metaphysical paper, I found almost no accessible resources. And as I am professional at procrastination, I found myself stuck with the strangely “original” topic that I chose and cannot change now.

Most of the recourses I needed were from JSTOR, and from Google’s limited previews. I contacted two professors in the US asking them for additional recourses on the topic, but found no good answer. So, in the end I asked my friends who have JSTOR accounts, from the US, to Lebanon to Pakistan, to get me the needed articles, and they were very kind and got it for me. As for the Gooogle book quandary, I also asked several friends, who had big libraries in their universities, to obtain me the pages omitted. And after days of suffering, I got photos of the Google Book omitted pages. And I won over the scarcity of resources by cyber –foreign aid…!

I am lucky to have friends who could help, but what about the vast majority of Palestinian students? It’s not fair for us to go through all these hardships for papers, and it’s not rational to quit writing papers for the previously mentioned reasons. I still cannot help not to think that the trials and tribulations of the Palestinian students are just part of the trials and tribulations of the occupied, dehumanized, and “ignorized” Palestinian people.

Live From LA: Thoughts on the De Rodeo Drive


The long anticipated journey to LA has begun. I am now in Hollywood, the home of entertainment. My five-week trip here is more educational of its kind, but luckily it includes some sightseeing of the city’s most famous landscapes.

One afternoon was spent it in De Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, a place where you find the most stylish and expensive brands in the world. From Gucci to Channel, and so many other names dominate the fashion industry striking the beholder with their excessively shining storefronts.

The streets are very neat, decorated with palm trees basking alongside the perfectly-paved roads. The stores and the sun are shining equally. The fanciest, fastest and most expensive cars brag as superstars while passersby take pictures and videos of them.

The upscale stores are temping even just to take a glance inside. The price tags are not much of a concern and are rarely displayed because the reputations of these ostentatious brands are already well known. My friends and I went to couple of stores only to peak at the latest trends so we could get replicas of them.

In one of the stores a pair of shoes costs $88 and a very small purse for $150, which are very expensive and unaffordable comparing to Gaza. The streets were full of tourists from many countries, mostly like us, just there to take photos to capture the memories.
Our supervisor told us that in the area there was the hotel in which appeared in Julia Roberts’s movie, “Pretty Woman.”

Though the whole area of Beverly Hills is “wowing”, the De Rodeo Drive experience did not fascinate me. I was not taken by the glamorous boulevard. It is not fun to be in a dreamy, Barbie-like world, while the reality is grim.

Before we went to Beverly Hills, we did some community service at a local Food Bank. Knowing that almost one million people out of the three million population of LA are hungry makes the lucrative area much of an absurd contrast.

The community service at the Food Bank was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had on a human level. We started with an orientation film about the organization’s goals and vision. Then the hard work started, hand in hand everybody was helping. Smiles transmitted between the strangers. Jokes and serious talks took a place too.

Though it was very tiring, and I did complain a lot, the teamwork between people from different ethnicities, religions and races was really remarkable. There is nothing better than strangers bonding together while doing something to help others in need.

The De Rodeo visit was so much like experiencing a movie scene, something staged, fake to some extent and –not to mention–very materialistic. Along the road I thought more about this excessively luxurious area. It is not just uncomforting because Beverly Hills is the complete antithesis of other places in LA, among them the location of the Food Bank, but also knowing that many of these stores are making profits on the expense of cheap laborers across the seas. This painful fact makes such fancy products distasteful to say the least.

I have only been here about a  week now; many places are yet to be explored. Although this is my experience in LA, I remain captive by my life in Gaza. It continues to influence me in all my observations and judgments so far. As a matter of fact, in times like these, when I am far away from Gaza, I am still experiencing the effect of life in Gaza.

The Beverly Hills trip highlighted that it takes more than fancy shops and fast cars to be excited and happy. To be around people who are really facing the hardships of life and to get the feeling that you are doing something to help them is definitely more much valuable and beautiful. Sometimes it is the simplest things in Gaza–like helping others– that brings happiness, and that is what has brought me happiness here in LA.

Written by :Lina
Edited by: Ehab Z

Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla


Yesterday was one of the most intense days in my life. News was and still is flooding from almost everywhere– Twitter, Facebook and TV– with conflicting reports about the condition of Sheikh Raed Salah. The chaos and conflicting reports put me in a state of disbelieve of what was happening. Worldwide reaction has been mostly shock and anger, and here in Gaza we have a firsthand experience of what the Israel is capable of . In a piece by Robert Fisks, he writes,

how did we get to this point? Maybe because we all grew used to seeing the Israelis kill Arabs, maybe the Israelis grew used to killing Arabs. Now they kill Turks. Or Europeans. Something has changed in the Middle East these past 24 hours – and the Israelis (given their extraordinarily stupid political response to the slaughter) don’t seem to have grasped what has happened. The world is tired of these outrages”

Words were coming from my heartless mind and my mindless heart while I was reading and watching the news about the Freedom Flotilla. I was very angry and very shocked. But one may wonder why the Palestinians in Gaza were shocked since we experience the dire treatment of the Occupation on daily basis, it is so much like what Robert Fisk wrote: now its is not the Palestinians who were being killed, it is foreign activists.  And it is happening in the high seas –in the international waters. A stark violation of the international law which Israel knows nothing about except ignoring it and getting away with it.

Israel outdid its audacity, but what was unexpectedly absurd is the Israeli PR campaign.  The justifications of why Israel conducted hostility against the civilians on board were merely empty words, lies, that Israel is selling to the mainstream media around the world. They say that the Israeli commandos were met by “deadly resistance” and the IDF was going to prove it. Later, a video was released by the IDF on Youtube showing slingshots and marbles.

Again, Gaza is put under the spotlight, and as usual for unfortunate events. The martyrdom of those activists happened for the sake of breaking the illegal siege imposed on Gaza.

Though the tonnes of aid being delivered is not enough to alleviate Gaza’s pains nor could it end the years of seige alone, but it carried a strong needed message: the seige must be lifted.

The significance of the convoy lies in showing the Palestinians in Gaza that they are not alone, that there are people who would cross the seas and risk their lives to show you, Gazans, solidarity.

The sense of solidarity is what Gazans have been looking forward to seeing on its shores. The sense that breaking the siege is by breaking the barriers that separate us as humans. The Flotilla in no way has failed to deliver its message, the blood of those who died is the most precious sacrifice they can ever give to a just cause. We are deeply saddened by their deaths, and honoured to be the recipients of their struggle.

One may see in The speech of the Turkish PM Recep Tayib Ordogan an articulation to  what most of the world is feeling; anger and condemnation to the Israeli brazen action. During that speech we were surprised by breaking news saying that Egypt is opening its borders with Gaza uncotionadionally. . This raises the question, “is this the beginning of the end of the siege on Gaza?” It’s too early to judge as the circumstances are moving at a rapid change. But I am not holding my breath.

Israel now knows that if the politicians are silent , it is left for the people to voice their resentment.

In the end of the day , there is nothing I can say or do to help those who are being deported or detained and probably dehumanized, nothing but prayers and words of gratitude. Thank you and God bless you.

In the Occupied territories, a one day strike on Israel is being imposed by the Palestinians, along with three days of mourning for the martyrs.

This is not the end of the convoys to Gaza, as Israel wishes. I am certain that more convoys will be even more determined to come to Gaza. Because  As long as there is oppression in Palestine, there will be humans with conscience trying to remove it. No justice, no peace.

I am trying to keep up with the latest updates on the Flotilla on Twitter.

Twelve hours: A trip to Jerusalem-Al-Quds


As I have applied for a training course in the USA, yesterday I had my visa interview done and one of dreams coming true…as I and for the first time in my life visited…Jerusalem…Al-Quds.

It must be the fastest twelve hour I had in my entire life. From Erez crossing point to Jerusalem to the US consulate in Occupied East Jerusalem to a very short tour in the Old City to Gaza again, in between I felt the best and worst feelings that I am still trying to make sense of. More importantly, I am trying to believe that I did set my foot in Jerusalem…and I did see the Dome of Rock though everything was so fast and so short. Anyhow, I will be writing about  my whole experience from A to Z. Because this short 12 hour trip is very significant on so many levels.

Tears and happiness in Erez!

This is the first time for me to “travel” from Erez crossing point. I was with a group of 9 people. 6 of us were university students and the rest were teachers. We got to Erez at 7 am as we were told. Waiting for our papers and IDS to be called, I got the chance to meet the other two guys who are joining the program that I am going to in the US.

With our IDS and papers with us, we walked approximately a one kilo and a half in prison like passage to reach the Israeli side of Erez. When you see the passage, it looks like it’s endless. I walked, walked and walked and I still had more to walk till I reached an electronic gate. With a green light flickered, I entered a huge-factory like building where we were scanned by something like tubes.

While my collogues and I were waiting for our turns to be scanned, a woman in front of us was with her little baby. She went back and forth to be scanned. Once with her little baby and other time alone. Her baby was carried by the Palestinian worker there. Another woman was asked to almost take off her scarf. Seeing this humiliation to the women and children, I couldn’t help it. I found myself shedding some tears for the way these women and others were treated. And when a woman who is not Palestinian saw me like this, she looked at me and said “I know”. To note, Most of the people traveling through Erez are patients who get operated in Israel.
Now, it was my turn to step inside the tube to be scanned. I followed the instructions where I raised my hands in the level of faces and my feet were astride, then I was scaned by the machine. No beeps were heard, so I moved to the next gate. Then our IDs were taken again to work on our permits to go to Jerusalem.
While waiting for our paper work to be done, I talked to woman who was extremely worried about her husband. She told me that he has problems with his cornea, and he couldn’t see well to follow the scanning instructions, so he was taken self-searching. He was kept there for quite long time; his operation was due today. I just can’t forget how that woman was worried, almost crying.
I was called by one my collogues to join them in the hall, so I left her without knowing what happened to her husband.
at 9:30 am, I was at my utmost point of happiness, as our papers were done. We met the head of exchange programs in the US Consulate, Mr. Ali. And we were all in the cool, bullet proof van…on our way to Jerusalem!

The road to Jerusalem,
We were all starving, so our first stop was a café located on the outskirts of Ashkelon –Asqlan. The thing that I could not make sense of is that how close this café was to Gaza, but how different everything was, except the currency and the very expensive items. I got a strawberry slush which cost me 20 shekels, that’s a lot comparing to Gaza, and a cinnamon roll which was also too expensive.  We grabbed our meals, then we hopped in the cool van. 

A long, greenish, beautiful road was ahead of us before we reached Jerusalem. I can say now after thinking about the trip that the best part was definitely the road. It was amazing! I put my headphones and listened to the few love songs that my mind instantly pertain it to loving Palestine .

In that state of mind which was still trying to absorb the fact that I was on my way to Jerusalem, I just wanted to look and look closer out of the window to see, to feel this holy, pristine green forests lying out of the window.After one hour and a half of mesmerizing beauty passing by as fast as the van was, we reached the US Consulate in Jerusalem. Then dull security procedures were taken that I would like to spare you and myself from writing them.

We entered a hall which was crowded by both Palestinians and Israelis. This stop lasted the longest. It was a chance to speak with more people; I talked to a fellow Palestinian from Bethlehem.   I was very happy to be speaking with someone from the West Bank, we virtually have contact with our fellow Palestinians in the West Bank.

The teacher with us spoke to a young Israeli who was curious how Palestinians from GAZA could go out from GAZA. I wanted to eavesdrop the conversation between the teacher and young Israeli, but they were talking in low voice, so I couldn’t catch much.

My name was called for the final step, before I get my visa to the USA. And I say it was also one of the best parts of this trip, the window-visa interview!
The man behind the disk was nice; I believe was not really walking, yet I was jumping. I was VERY excited, and apparently he felt it!  He told me:” you look excited!”, I instantly answered “I AM! I am in Jerusalem!”. He told me that I was lucky that I was going to UCLA, California.

The interview was quite short, and it ended up with “You are qualified for the USA visa.”. In my mind I was like “YAY,NOW IT”S TIME TO GO OUT FROM THE DULL HALL TO JERUSALEM!”.

Unfortunately, we spent A LOT of time in the US. Consulate, so we were left with only 30 minutes to tour the closest spot to the consulate, Bab el Amoud area.

Racing time at Bab-Al Amoud
Mr.Ali left us under the supervision of the teacher who told us that we have to stick together. I wanted to take photos of everything, to enter every shop, and more importantly, to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, but the time and circumstances didn’t let us do the last and the most important thing.
The couple with us took a cab after they finished from the Consulate and went to the Aqsa and took their time. I had the chance to join them, but I stayed with the group of the students in the hope that we’d join the couple, but we could not.
We only got the chance to take a short glimpse at the Dome of the Rock when  I entered some yard full of trees, then I found the golden dome shinning. I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe my eyes that the mosque, I have been seeing its photos since I was very young is standing there…right in front of my eyes! I took a photo of it, then photo of me next to it, then hurried up to go back to the van.

I can say that the worst part was the fact that I went to Jerusalem, but I didn’t get the chance to pray in Al-Aqsa. I spent the whole way back to Gaza frowning, crying at some point and regretting my bad choice to stay with the group.
But I have to say that I got some stuff from Bab-Al Amoud market that will remind me of Jerusalem.   But it will never repair the damage I did by my bad choice, which when I remember it, I feel my heart is burning from the inside. They tried to make me feel better, but I needed to feel bad! Really, really bad!
The tour finished, and we met Mr.Ali again to drive us back to Gaza.

Gaza is Gaza!
By the end of the tour, and after my mistake, I felt that I just wanted to go home, Gaza. Though I loved Jerusalem very much, and I really, really wished I could spend more time there ,in the end, I wanted to go to my house, and to my family.

It was a pleasant experience, I learned a lot in terms of twelve hours, the fastest twelve hours ever! Now, I know why Jerusalem is called Kingdom of Heaven, you see all the world in a one narrow alley.  Everything is old, so much like the time has stopped in there.
I went home carrying with me an image of how Jerusalem looks like. I went home with one dream not fully fulfilled, but part of it definitely was. And I went home more motivated to work hard to represent Palestine when I go to the US, if I managed to go there. In sha Allah!
And I am so grateful for that…

Last thing, I would love to thank my family and friends for their support. And Maath fron the US Consulate.
Check more photos from Jerusalem…Click here.

Gaza and the ashes of Eyjafjallajokul


Salamz all,

The world has been reporting extensively about the volcanic ash cloud that has created an aerial jam in Europe leaving many passengers stranded unable to reach their destinations.

In Gaza, the “Eyjafjallajokul” effect has been taking place since a very long time except the worlds refuses to heed Gaza’s ash cloud that is brining the Strip of 1,5 million  to the verge of a complete state of desperation and destitution.

Gaza’s ash cloud is not of the kind that keeps passengers stranded in hotels. It is kind that kills, separates and humiliates. It is kind that makes people dig tunnels to get their basic needs.
The airlines sector in Europe is recoding major losses due to this phenomenon. Gaza has been recoding losses in almost every walk of life because of this endless ash of cloud.

Europe has reopened its airspaces and those who are stranded are seeing an end for their waiting. Gaza on the contrary is still under the mercy of this ash cloud that no volcano threw up. And unlike the waiting of the Europeans which might include some sort of vacation and sightseeing, the waiting in Gaza for this inflicted unjust and deliberate ash cloud to clear up means more and constant loss in the gross meaning of the word.

So, between the  Eyjafjallajokul’s ash cloud or Israel’s ongoing  “Eyjafjallajokul” siege…

Think…and put yourselves in our shoes…

For those who do not know to say the word ” Eyjafjallajokul”, you can watch the video below:  😀 😀