Back Home: Realties in Gaza?

Gaza, June 21 (Pal Telegraph – By Sameh A. Habeeb) It has been over a year and 4 months since I left Gaza early in 2009. I’m back today. Nothing has changed on the ground. Destroyed houses, roads, basic utilities and lack of infrastructure are still existing or “implanted” on Gaza roads. Your way to central Gaza city from Rafah is a bit strange as it’s very dusty and smelly from Egyptian fuel and oils. It is a pity that the roads of Gaza are the same as busy and environmentally contaminated roads in Cairo or China.

I just left London 2 days ago. I made all the efforts to get to Gaza. I was between two choices that every Palestinian trying to cross to Gaza has to face. I reached London Heathrow airport midday to catch the 3pm flight to Cairo. Egypt airways staff refused to let me board the airplanes saying that I will be deported back to London. I negotiated with them for some time until they told me, “you can leave but you will be responsible for a new ticket”. It was strange to know that I could be deported back to London because I desired to go to Gaza. What does /did this mean?

I managed at the end to reach Cairo. I thought I would be able to get out of this ‘bad’, questionable’ situation so I made a few phone calls to the Egyptian authorities but alas no ‘good’ thing resulted. I was promised that I would be allowed to stay in Egypt for a few days after that, I will be able to go back to Gaza.

In Cairo, I was detained with a number of Palestinians, (in one of the rooms for 9 hours). We were not allowed to leave the airport. More than 35 people were lying on the ground. Some were sleeping while other children were either crying or playing. After 9 hours we were deported to Gaza. It was a very bitter experience to be deported as an illegal migrant with no rights. As far as International law is concerned it states that, you can be deported if you illegally enter a country.

Added to that, while you are staying there, the country which desires to deport you should secure/provide all kinds of comfort for you! What is the use of International laws if we are not held accountable when we do not uphold it?

We left Cairo 7:30 am, reached Rafah crossing by 5pm. We managed to cross to Gaza easily, something that was never expected before.

At the Palestinian side of Rafah crossing I saw what I expected and spoke out about before (about double standards and Fatah‘s tactics). Hamas security persons were using double standards. Many ‘normal /regular’ people were inside the crossing waiting their beloved ones. However, those people were not allowed to get in. I wondered how they managed to get.

At the crossing, I said to one of the security guards, “I have some heavy bags here. I want my dad to come through to collect them and me”. He answered,

“He can’t, this is closed area”.

I enquired, “But why, I see other people here collecting their relatives and friends. Why can’t I have the same right? Can I call my dad? Can he come here?”

The guard replied, “He can’t, he should have coordinated to get into the crossing”.

Coordinating means, if you know someone in the Rafah crossing, then you can call them to gain an access. Well, this is just another sign of corruption and nepotism that we had also experienced during the Fatah times!

As I entered Gaza, an overwhelming feeling of happiness and joy went through me. I realized the smell of Gaza which is a unique one. The pale faces of the exhausted people are the same. My father collected me from the crossing to Gaza city, where my house is located.

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About Sameh Habeeb

Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine I am Sameh A. Habeeb. I'm a Palestinian born and raised in Gaza. I'm 23 years old. I have a bachelor degree in English Language and Literature. I have worked in several different fields’ pre and post of my university studies for almost 5 years. I have worked as volunteer in civil societies where I practiced tasks to help people and educate children. I worked as News Producer and a Journalist at the Ramattan News Agency which is Regional Media facility based in Gaza and the Middle East. After a year, I started to work in the relief sector with the International British NGO in my home country. I still work till now where I supervise around 350 orphans. I report their news, needs and life progress for them. In addition, I write features and photo stories about their life. In addition I contribute to implementation of projects and supervision. In December 2007, I started a brand-new stage of my life linked to peace activities, activism, tolerance and solidarity. I began to work as a peace activist with some Israeli friends to bring peace in the Middle East. This added much to my array of skills and furthered my leadership potential. I was even named as the "Barack Obama" of Palestine while I was speaking in a conference in Italy. I believe I have the quality’s associated with public speaking, research, photography and journalism to make positive changes and contributions in my career field. I am currently working as an Editor for ( . I have launched many Facebook groups and other sites and organizations about peace, solidarity and outcome evaluations. I have conducted many dialogues and conferences in many countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece, UK and so forth. As a Photojournalist and writer I have my own blog: _www.gazatoday.blogspot.com_ ( . I go on site to locations as a journalist, visit families, take photos, write about the social issue or event and then publish them. I do that for free and I my work is published worldwide. I visited the European Union and was invited for a speaking session. I was invited to speak about Gaza for France, Spain, Luxembourg, Greece, Ireland and UK. I was invited to Canada last August after I was selected to participate in Quebec 400 Anniversary to speak about my experience as a journalist. Sameh A. Habeeb Photojournalist & Peace Activist Gaza Strip, Palestine Mob: 00972599306096 Tel: 0097282802825 E-mail: Skype: Gazatoday, Facebook Sameh A. habeeb Web: Daily Photos:

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