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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

As I turn 25 today: 25 things I am grateful for

As I turn 25 today: 25 things I am grateful for


Gaza, February 28, I would start with expressing how much I like my birthday's date but I would sound self centered. And I am not here to sound self-centered; I am here to announce my decision to bathe in gratitude this year on my birthday. I reached 25 today and although I have MUCH MORE than 25 things to be grateful for, I will choose my best 25.

My close friends have seen how tangible my transformation has been, but for those who don’t know me: I have changed allot along the past few months. 2011, was a year that I will never forgot. It was revolutionary in every sense that this meaning can hold, leaders were toppled, people demanded their freedom, horrendous bloodsheds and it was a clear sign that the world is changing. 

Apparently, I was following that trend “Un-intentionally”. I ended up changing too. Sometimes, I don’t even recognize my past self. Don’t get me wrong, the real Omar is still there and the old Omar is still camping on me but the new Omar is a spontaneous operation that started happening and still is.

I like 25 –Not because the numbers are nice or it’s the half of 50 and all this crap-, I like 25 because I can honestly say that now: I know myself a little better, I know the world a little better, I know god a little better, I know what I want a little better and I know you a little better. I appreciate things more, I enjoy things more, I no longer tolerate drama or people’s crap and I no longer seek validation from people who just wanna use me. I am becoming who I am, I am meant to be and I want to be. For me, this is big.

I was frightened to death from this transformation because as Maya Angelou once said: “If you know better, you would\should\could do better”, she is right. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do better if I knew better but GLADLY I was wrong. I try and will try to do better now that I know better, and I will always seek more knowledge to know better so I can do better even if that scares the crap out of me. I was also afraid because my change will upset many close people to my heart –and it did- and I might lose them but it will be their choice –and it is- not mine. He\she who doesn’t accept me for who I am, doesn’t deserve me –This is my new mantra-.

Ok time to shut up now and state the 25 things I thank god for –No matter how much I thank god it will never be enough for he has given me endless blessings, gifts and things to be grateful for-, here we go:

1-      My faith and how it gets 10 times stronger after a little weakness.

2-      My Vulnerability that keeps me grounded, human, humble and grateful.

3-      My family because you might lose anything but you will never lose your family.

4-      My mom who passed away when I was 9 but lived in my heart since then, she planted in me seeds that will always grow, which means she will always be with me J love you mom.

5-      Nano and his upcoming brother\sister (Adnan Abdullah a.k.a. Nano who is my nephew and the best gift that god and dareen –my sister- gave me).

6-      Ziad, My best friend. Because no matter what happens, we will always watch each other’s backs and be there for each other.

7-      All my friends (class mates, social media friends, university friends, ALL MY FRIENDS EVERYWHERE because every1 of them made a difference in my life).

8-      My Grandma who raised me like a son and a grandchild and was always there for me. <3

9-      My life in Cyprus Island that might not be long but left positive precipitations that will stay forever with me and made a huge impact on my personality.

10-   Being Palestinian because I would wanna be Palestinian if I wasn’t. I would be a different person if I wasn’t Palestinian. It made me who I am now.

11-   Palestine because this entity and existence taught me love, existence, UNARMED resistance and LIFE.

12-   Writing because the gift of writing gave me the ability to slowly discover myself and my voice and more importantly have my voice heard and express myself freely. And poetry, because it helped give my imaginations so many other and renewable dimensions.

13-   Latin Patriarchate School and Holly family school because the 1st gave me the best years of my childhood life with the best friends, teachers and school ever. And the 2nd meant the transformation from childhood to adolescence and a whole new phase with the same awesome friends and teachers.

14-   Social media for helping us reach out to people, participate in global revolutions and spread the truth about Palestine and Gaza.

15-   Gaza. Imagine you were walking in a gallery and a breathtaking portrait caught your eye and you couldn’t stop looking at it. Infact, you kept coming everyday to just look at it. Well, I live in this portrait J

16-   My love for pets and animals in General because it made me more humane, hating animals can turn a person into a cruel monster. I said “CAN”, please don’t hold that against me.

17-   A little more knowledge everyday, because knowledge is power.

18-   My English language because it made my life 100 times easier than other people here in Gaza.

19-   My family’s financial status that enabled me to study at good schools, universities and be able to do some of the things that I like even though we aren’t rich. My financial status, I am not rich yet I am independent and I get to live how I want to live and do most of the things I like.

20-   My integrity that helped me make numerous friends for life without needing anything from them. Thank you god, Thank you god and Thank you god.

21-   My love for art, culture and music that introduced color to my life, without these things my life would be black and white à BORING “in my personal opinion about my life, you might be living a black and white life and enjoying it” J

22-   My laptop. My first big purchase and my best investment because it was the gate for priceless things and moments. It means allot to me.

23-   My humanity that enables my heart ache whenever I see a child crying, an elder suffering, an animal hurting, injustice ruling, oppression camping and Palestine bleeding.

24-   Change. The change that happened to me, to the world and my ability to spot positive change; seek positive change, work for a better change and thrive for a better change.

25-   Kareem. For being in my life as a second dad, friend, mentor, a person who is brutally honest with me, knows me very well, always there for me no matter what, incorporates me in his family, sets me straight, listens to me and offers me unconditional fatherly love.

Ok that’s all folks. Feel free to tell me what you are grateful for, why did you wake up smiling today? What do you wanna thank god for? …etc.

I wanna also thank you all for being a part of my birthday.

With love, gratitude, respect and hugs,

Omar from Gaza

Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others - Cicero



Sunday, February 26, 2012

We supported Khader Adnan NOW lets support Hana Shalabi

We supported Khader Adnan NOW lets support Hana Shalabi


Khader Adnan is a name that made history, he is a Palestinian hero who won his battle for his dignity and he won over injustice and cruelty. He was illegally detained after he was kidnapped from his bed by Israeli police; he started a hunger strike to protest against his illegal administrative detention. He ended his hunger strike after 66 days after his lawyers accepted a deal offered by the Israeli military court to release him in April. Israeli police said that Khader Adnan’s illegal arrest was done for classified and secretive reasons that they don’t want to share. YEAH RIGHT. Numerous Palestinian prisoners go and went through the same torture. They will get arrested for classified reasons and just remain illegally detained until further notice.

Khader Adnan isn’t released yet. We should keep fighting until he is released then keep fighting for others like Khader Adnan. Now its time we show the same concern and care for Hana Shalabi. Hana Shalabi entered her 11th day of hunger strike. I was searching for info about Hana Shalabi and found this valuable info about Hana shared by Anan Odeh:

Hanh Shalabi was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in October in a trade for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hana was re-arrested on February 16 2012 and ordered to be detained without trial for six months - administrative detention. She decided to protest her arbitrary detention sam way as the hero Khade Adnan and today she is on the ninth day of her open hunger strike. She needs our immediate support, I believe that every one can do something to emphasize her cause and to make a pressure at the right time - before it is too late - to have her released. Please distribute the story widely and I will do my best to keep you updated.

 Here is her profile from the previous arbitrary detention, so you can learn something about her and about how she suffered that time:

 HANA YAHYA SHALABI

Date of birth: 2 July 1982
Place of detention: Hasharon prison
Date of arrest: 14 September 2009
Place of residence: Burqin, Jenin
Number of order renewals: One
Expected end of administrative detention order: 12 September 2010

Date of release: Hana was released on 18 October 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas authorities

ARREST AND INTERROGATION Hana Yahya Shalabi was arrested from her family home on 14 September 2009. At approximately 1:30 a.m. that morning, Israeli soldiers in 12 military jeeps surrounded her house in Burqin village, near the West Bank town of Jenin. The soldiers ordered Hana’s entire family outside of the house and demanded Hana give them her identity card. They then proceeded to conduct a thorough search of the family’s home. During the search, one of the soldiers forcibly removed framed pictures of Hana’s brother Samer, who was killed by the Israeli army in 2005, tore them apart and walked over the pieces in front of the entire family. The soldiers then started shouting and cursing at Hana and her family members. When Hana’s father, aged 63, attempted to intervene and protect his daughter from continued verbal abuse, one Israeli soldier pushed him in the chest with the butt of a rifle. Clearly distressed, Hana’s mother fainted at this scene. The soldiers then handcuffed Hana in painfully tight shackles around her wrists and placed her under arrest.  Hana was then transferred by military jeep to Salem Detention Center. During the transfer, Hana’s abaya, a traditional Muslim religious dress covering the entire body worn by women over home clothes, came open, uncovering her clothes and parts of her body. Some of the male soldiers accompanying her in the jeep took pictures of her at this point, consciously exploiting her situation, knowing she would feel offended and humiliated by such photos. Upon arrival to Salem Detention Center, a doctor gave Hana a quick physical examination. Immediately after the examination, Hana was transferred to Kishon Detention Center inside Israel where her interrogation formally began. 

Solitary confinement and abuse Hana was held in solitary confinement at Kishon Detention Center for eight consecutive days, in a cell measuring six square meters that contained no windows or natural sunlight. The cell contained only a mattress and a bathroom, and was reportedly very dirty. Hana was subjected to exhausting interrogation sessions every day, which lasted from 10:00 a.m. until the late evening hours. The lack of natural sunlight during this period caused her to lose all sense of time and she was often unable to determine whether it was night or day. As this period of isolation and disorientation coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, 

Hana was unable to monitor time in order to respect her fast. As a result, she decided not to eat at all, refusing meals and drinking water only during the entire eight day period.   Hana was also subjected to sexual harassment and physical violence during her interrogation. Hana told Addameer attorney Safa Abdo of an incident that occurred at end of an interrogation session, in which she did not confess to committing a crime, as her interrogators had expected. In a move that Addameer contends was an effort to provoke Hana, one of the Israeli interrogators called Hana “habibti” (Arabic for “darling”) in a provocative manner.   Feeling humiliated and angry at the interrogator’s offensive use of an intimate term, Hana started shouting at him. The interrogators responded by slapping her on her face and beating her on her arms and hands. The guards then took her back to her cell where they tied her to the bed frame and continued humiliating her by taking pictures of her laying in that position.   

Addameer is greatly concerned by the verbal abuse Israeli detaining authorities display towards Palestinian female prisoners by directing sexual threats towards them and using inappropriate, vulgar language. Addameer contends that this behavior is done in a deliberate effort to exploit Palestinian women’s fears by playing on patriarchal norms as well as gender stereotypes within particular customs of Palestinian society. 

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION After Hana’s interrogation period concluded, she remained in Kishon Detention Center for nine additional days, which Israeli authorities claimed were necessary for the purpose of investigation.   On 29 September 2009, Israeli Military Commander Ilan Malka issued a six-month administrative detention order against Hana on the premise that she posed a threat to the “security of the area”. The order was set to expire on 28 March 2010. At the judicial review of the order, which took place on 5 October 2009 at the Court of Administrative Detainees in Ofer Military Base, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, military judge Ilan Nun confirmed the order for the entire six month period, but agreed to count the two weeks Hana had already been detained towards her detention period. In his decision, Nun alleged that, based on the “secret information” made available to him by the military prosecution, Hana was intending to carry out a “terrorist attack”. The judge further claimed that Hana had already undertaken initial steps in preparation for the attack, though he provided no proof to support this allegation.   Addameer contends that the judge’s decision raises serious questions and fair trial issues. 

Seventeen days of investigation by the Israeli Security Agency, including eight days of consecutive interrogation did not prove the suspicions against Hana and no evidence of the alleged “intention” was brought before the court. Moreover, at no point did the court establish Hana’s affiliation with a Palestinian political party or armed group, nor did it establish whether Hana planned to carry out the alleged attack by herself or in partnership with anyone else. Additionally, the nature of a possible partnership was never investigated. Importantly, all suspicions directed towards Hana remained vague and general, leaving her without any legitimate means to defend herself. Although administrative detention orders issued by the Israeli military commander are the subject of review and further appeal by a military court, neither lawyers nor detainees are permitted to see the 'secret information’ used as a basis for the detention orders, rendering any possible legal defense meaningless.   Hana’s attorneys filed an appeal against her administrative detention order, but the appeal was refused. Hana is now set to be held without charge or trial until 13 March 2010. 

DETENTION CONDITIONS Prior to her transfer to HaSharon Prison, Hana spent a total of 17 days in Kishon Detention Center, where she was not once given a change of clean clothes. Hana continued to be detained in interrogation-like conditions for three days after her administrative detention order was issued. On 1 October 2009, she was eventually transferred to Section 2 of HaSharon Prison, where, due to overcrowding, she was placed in the same section as female Israeli criminal offenders. This placement is a direct violation of Israeli Prison Service Regulations, which stipulate that administrative detainees are to be held separately from all other detainees and prisoners, including those who have been convicted of a crime. Moreover, detained in the same sections as Israeli criminal offenders, Palestinian female prisoners are almost always discriminated against, enjoy fewer recreation hours and are often subjected to humiliation and abusive language from Israeli prisoners, who threaten them of physical attack. As a result, Palestinian women live in constant fear and often experience insomnia, and other psychological problems for the entire time they are detained in the same sections with Israeli women.   

Addameer attorney Safa Abdo filed a complaint with the HaSharon Prison administration regarding Hana’s detention conditions. On 25 October 2009, after being held for 25 days among Israeli criminal offenders, Hana was finally moved to Section 12 of HaSharon Prison with the other Palestinian female prisoners, where she was held together with approximately 18 other Palestinian female prisoners. The building which now constitutes the prison complex served as the headquarters of the British Mounted Police during the British Mandate in Palestine and, as such, was never designed for the incarceration of women. As a result, Hana suffered from the harsh detention conditions and complained of overcrowding, humidity, lack of natural sunlight and adequate ventilation, as well as poor hygiene standards.(1)  

PERSONAL INFORMATION Prior to her arrest by the Israeli authorities, Hana was arrested and held by the Palestinian intelligence forces for a week in 2009 for the purpose of interrogation. During this period, Hana was permitted to sleep at home and was kept in detention from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. each day.   Hana is one of nine children in a family of farmers in Burqin village, next to Jenin. On 29 September 2005, Hana’s brother Samer was killed by Israeli forces during an incursion in the village. Although Hana never intended to pursue university studies after completing her secondary education, she now vows to study journalism after she is released to advocate for the rights of Palestinian prisoners.   

Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1591. This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.

Please use your voice, platforms, social media accounts ....etc to be the voice of Hana Shalabi. Join twitter campaigns in support of Hana Shalabi. 

Follow @Addameer_ps and @KhaderAdnan for more info.


Join tomorrow's demonstration in Ramallah at 5 pm. 

You can join Addameer's campaign to STOP ILLEGAL DETENTION by checking out this link that shows you what to do and who to contact:


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Khader Adnan's letter from hospital, still dying to live. ACT NOW

Khader Adnan's letter from hospital, still dying to live. ACT NOW



Still on hunger strike for the 56th consecutive day, Khader Adnan, 33, graduate student, sends this letter from Zaiv hospital in Safad:

“I started my battle offering my soul to God almighty and adamant to go ahead until righteousness triumphs over falsehood. I am defending my dignity and my people’s dignity and not doing this in vain. 

"The Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against our people, especially prisoners. I have been humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would fight the policy of administrative detention to which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey,” Adnan wrote. 

His letter, delivered by Jalal Abu Wasil, a lawyer from the Palestinian ministry of prisoners affairs who visited him in hospital, also highlighted that Adnan refused to be examined by doctors. 

“Here I am in a hospital bed surrounded with prison wardens, handcuffed, and my foot tied to the bed. The only thing I can do is offer my soul to God as I believe righteousness and justice will eventually triumph over tyranny and oppression.” 

“I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on," he wrote. 

"It is time the international community and the UN support prisoners and force the State of Israel to respect international human rights and stop treating prisoners as if they were not humans.” 
This letter was published today by Maan News Agency.
Hunger strike in Gaza, West Bank and everywhere else continues by those who support Khader Adnan, including myself.

Here is a little quote that was mentioned in Human Rights Watch’s report about Khader Adnan:

“Adnan, 33, has been on hunger strike for 55 days. According to a 2006 study by the British Medical Association, “during the 1980 and 1981 hunger strikes in Northern Ireland […] death generally occurred between 55 and 75 days.” In general, “the final stage” of a hunger strike occurs between 45 to 75 days “due to cardiovascular collapse or severe arrhythmias,” the study said.”

The report is a must read and circulate, you can find the full version here:



Khader Adnan represents the case of numerous Palestinian prisoners who were detained and imprisoned illegally so act not to help him and all the others. Here is a list of actions you can do:

You can join Addameer's campaign to STOP ILLEGAL DETENTION by checking out this link that shows you what to do and who to contact:


You can sign this petition:


And\or this petition:


And\or this petition:


 You can also check this link for more info about Khader Adnan and how to take action:


 Here is Gaza's tribute to Khader Adnan, people joined a sit-in tent at ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) HQ.'s in Gaza while others demonstrated. Many went on a hunger strike in solidarity with Khader Adnan including myself. Here is Joe Catron's pictures of the ICRC sit-in tent in Gaza:



Act now and help us save Khader Adnan's life before its too late.

From Gaza with love,

Omar




Friday, February 10, 2012

Khader Adnan: Dying to live. What will you do to help save his life?

Khader Adnan: Dying to live. What will you do to help save his life?


Imagine life was normal until one day everything changed. You woke up to find out that your father\husband\son\brother\uncle\friend was ILLEGALY detained and placed in jail. If you are a normal human being you will be shocked and devastated, the first thing that will come to your mind is to go and ask why was the person you care about detained? Am I right?
What would you do if you were told that the reason behind the detention of your loved one was “classified” and a “secret”? It doesn’t stop here. What would you feel if you were told that he will be detained for six months and then maybe sentenced for more and YOU CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT IT? I know I would go crazy.

Now lets step out of imagination and let me tell you that this person actually exists, he is a human being like you and me. He has a family, friends and an actual life. His name is Khader Adnan, 33, graduate student, married with two beautiful daughters and his wife is now pregnant. He was detained ILLEGALLY by Israeli police on the bases of an unexcused illegitimate court order. Imagine being detained with illegally which means you cant be with your daughters and your wife who is expecting a new baby to be born soon. Better yet, don’t imagine. Try to think about Khader Adnan and his family and what they are going through now. He went on a hunger strike 55 days ago and since then his health has been deteriorating every second.

After the 42nd day of a hunger strike, it is expected that individuals will begin to lose their hearing and vision, and suffer bleeding in the gums, intestines, and esophagus. The body will gradually stop functioning. After the 45th day, there is a high risk of death due to vascular system collapse and/or cardiac arrest.
Each day, Khader was subjected to two three-hour interrogation sessions. Throughout the interrogation sessions, his hands were tied behind his back on a chair with a crooked back, causing extreme pain to his back. Khader notes that the interrogators would leave him sitting alone in the room for half an hour or more. Khader also suffered from additional ill-treatment. During the second week of interrogation, one interrogator pulled his beard so hard that it caused his hair to rip off. The same interrogator also took dirt from the bottom of his shoe and rubbed it on Khader's mustache as a means of humiliation.

On Friday evening 30 December 2011, Khader was transferred to Ramleh prison hospital because of his deteriorating health from his hunger strike. He was placed in isolation in the hospital, where he was subject to cold conditions and cockroaches throughout his cell. He has refused any medical examinations since 25 December, which was one week after he stopped eating and speaking. The prison director came to speak to Khader in order to intimidate him further and soldiers closed the upper part of his cell's door to block any air circulation, commenting that they would "break him" eventually.

Randa was able to visit her husband last Tuesday evening after he was transferred to Zeif hospital in Safad. Imagine seeing your husband in a hospital after being on a hunger strike for 52 days protesting his illegal detention. Randa had this to say: “A lot of the hair on his face and head has fallen off. He has not been allowed to shower or wash during all his time in detention, nor is he allowed to wear warm clothes in this cold weather. He told me he feels he’s living the last moments of his life. During my visit, my husband's heart swelled up and a medical crew neglected him for half an hour." Randa was shocked and heartbroken after she visited her husband.

I will leave you with this final thought: Imagine the brutality of being on trial in your hospital bed because you are too sick to attend the court, Israeli court actually held a session at the hospital. He is too ill because he is starving himself in protest of his illegal detention. How brutal is that?

Do you feel like you want to help Khader Adnan? Help save his life? Because human life matters and its time we acknowledged that? Do you want to save a father\son\husband\brother\uncle\friend? Do you want to save somebody’s life? Do you want to act against injustice and illegal detention? Well guess what? You can actually do something about it. Don’t underestimate any little, singular or individual act because acting and putting pressure can make a difference, and can save a life.

If you live in Gaza, Palestine, Arab countries or international countries you can still make a difference from where you are. I will post links here of all petitions, action alerts and articles that can help you do something to save Khader’s life. Please read one and\or one of these links and ACT NOW TO HELP US SAVE HIS LIFE.

You can join Addameer's campaign to STOP ILLEGAL DETENTION by checking out this link that shows you what to do and who to contact:


You can sign this petition:


And\or this petition:


And\or this petition:


You can also check this link for more info about Khader Adnan and how to take action:


Here is Gaza's tribute to Khader Adnan, people joined a sit-in tent at ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) HQ.'s in Gaza while others demonstrated. Many went on a hunger strike in solidarity with Khader Adnan including myself. Here is Joe Catron's pictures of the ICRC sit-in tent in Gaza:


Khader Adnan receives message of support from former Hunger Striker Tommy McKearney:



Lets not wait for officials to move. Lets not wait for Khader to die or others to die so we can decide to do something. Back In the 1980s, nobody helped Tommy. They only released him after the death of 10 of his supporters who went on a hunger strike with him. Tommy went on hunger strike for 66 days. Lets not keep Khader waiting for that long. Move now. You don’t have any excuse not to. You can act in any way possible. 

Use social media, spread the word, write about it, go on a hunger strike for a day (not before you consult an adult if you are a child or a doctor if you are sick), demonstrate for him, hold vigils, put pressure and once again PLEASE READ THE LINKS I POSTED TO TAKE ACTION NOW.

Clock is ticking. Have you done anything to save Khader’s life yet?

In Solidarity with Khader Adnan & all other illegally-detained prisoners around the world specially 
Palestinians,

Omar 4m Gaza



I used Maan news agency and Mondoweiss as my references. You can check their websites here: