Injuries under siege

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

This boy was not injured during the attacks. After the attacks he fell and hit his head and went unconscious. He was recovering in the ICU at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital. Since the Israeli (and Egyptian) siege began, almost 250 Palestinians patients in Gaza have died from illnesses or injuries who would’ve otherwise lived had they only been able to leave Gaza and receive the necessary treatment. In many cases that treatment was available only an hour away in Egypt. The siege has also meant that medical machinery at Gaza’s hospitals is unable to be mintananced or powered non-stop due to frequent electrical cuts. This boy’s serious yet treatable injury is made all the more critical because of the inhumane siege. With the ongoing attacks in the midst of the siege, Gaza’s hospitals are also overcrowded and the medical staff is overworked, which makes treating routine injuries all the more difficult.

Detained in Egypt

wissam nassar
image: wissam nassar

My good friend Philip Rizk (pictured on right) has been arrested by Egyptian authorities for organizing a symbolic walk from Cairo to Gaza. Until now his whereabout are unknown exactly, but his family and friends do know that he is still detained. This is Egypt, a close ally of the US, that arrests its citizens on a regular basis and can hold them indefinitely without allowing them to see a lawyer or talk to anyone at all. The so-called “peace” agreement between Egypt and Israel is not supported by more than 85% of Egyptians many have told me, and in order to silence the voice of the people who often do try and speak out in support of Palestine, Egypt terrorizes those with arrest and torture. Meanwhile, the extremely unpopular dictatorship (he won “elections” after he barred many leading opposition parties from running or imprisoned their candidates) of Hosni Mubarak receives the second largest amount of aid from the US after Israel. I thought the US likes to liberate the oppressed peoples of the Middle East not support their dictatorships?

Friends and fellow students are organizing a number of actions currently in Cairo to demand his release. Contact me if you know Philip or would like more information.

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian police have detained an Egyptian-German political activist and blogger on Gaza Strip issues, his sister and an eyewitness said Saturday.

Philip Rizk, 26, a graduate student at the American University in Cairo, was detained by police Friday night while returning to Cairo from Qalyoubia, north of Cairo, his sister Jeanette told Reuters.

Rizk and a group of activists had been holding a march in the rural areas north of Cairo in solidarity with Palestinians and to raise awareness about the effects of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, according to Salma Said, an activist who was with Rizk when he was detained.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said he had received no word of the detention.

Said said police had detained their vehicle for several hours and then said they wanted to talk with Rizk. They put him in a vehicle with no licence plates and sped off. Other policemen then blocked the activists’ vehicle to prevent them from following.

“We don’t know where he is, and there is no formal charge,” Rizk’s sister said. She added that the German embassy had been notified and were attempting to locate him.

Rizk, who blogs at Tabula Gaza ( is “passionate” about Gaza and had recently completed most of the work on a short documentary about non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation, according to his sister.

She said that Rizk, who lived in Gaza for two years, had been helping get medicine into the coastal enclave that was recently the target of a 22-day Israeli offensive that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.

The Egyptian government contributes to the blockade of Gaza by refusing to open the Rafah crossing point without Israeli approval.

(Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni; Editing by Matthew Jones)

I've been injured three times

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

My friend, let me tell you, I’ve been injured three times by Israel. I’ve been shot twice and injured by shrapnel once. In the latest war a bullet went into the back of my neck and exited the other side. I spent a few days in the hospital and now I’m fine. Look at my wounds on my neck, my leg and my stomach. Now look around you, house after house completely destroyed. Now look at my face and ask yourself: can they ever defeat us?

"Open-air prison"

This term is often used to describe Gaza. It always make me stop when I hear it, “open-air.” Even though the word “prison” follows, it still makes it sound nice somehow. It makes you just want to take a deep breath when you say it out loud and feel calm and relaxed.

If you think about it though, a “closed-air” prison, or a roof built over Gaza would actually make Israel’s job harder of using F-16 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters and unmanned drones to fire indiscriminately on the people of Gaza.

You cannot defeat us

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

We are youth. You have made war on us as long as we’ve lived. This is nothing new. Continue to destroy our homes, shoot our children, drop bombs from your planes. You are cowards, and we are youth. As long as we’re alive we will always smile. It must surprise you, but you will learn, one day you will learn that we will never be defeated.

This is my house

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

This is my house. I am ten years old. Every day I used to play in the area around my home. I used to run home after school and throw my bag in the front door to meet my friends and run around in the streets and then go home when I wanted to rest or eat with my family. Why was my home destroyed? What happened to it? Is it something normal that happens to other children outside of Gaza?