Connect with us

Culture & Arts

Gaza: Long History of Wars and Defiance

 by: Dr. Saeb Shaath

Gaza is one of the world’s oldest living cities. It is a city held to be of
major strategic importance. It was the only overland route between Africa and
Asia, which led Egypt to establish, in 3500 B.C., the citadel of Tell Sakan on
the banks of the Wadi Ghazzeh, some 12km from the modern city.

In the second millennia B.C., the Egyptians lost control of the city to the “Hyksos”, who expanded Gaza nearer to the sea front and built “Tell Al-Ajjul”. Hyksos people marched southward and captured the Great Egyptian Empire, about 1650 B.C.
They lasted around 100 years, before the Egyptian Army chased them out to the outskirts of Gaza. History informs us that the Egyptian then failed to crack
Gaza and retreated. Some 200 years later Gaza once again fell under the
domination of Egypt, an event marked in history as the conquest by Thutmose III on April 25, 1468 B.C.Gaza’s history has been shaped by its strategic location; in 734 B.C., the Assyrian Empire took complete control of Gaza. The Persian Empire in 539 B.C. expanded and annexed Gaza. In Gaza there is the ancient Greek city of Antidon dated to around 520 B.C., a port and settlement four kilometers from the Gaza city. In 332 B.C., Alexander the Great besieged Gaza, the last city to resist his design, for the control of the ancient world. Most of the old Babylonian domain, including Egypt, swiftly fell into Alexander’s hands.

Gaza dared to resist; a siege of two months followed by a ruin as complete as that of Tyre. The defenders, mostly local Arabs, fought to death, the women and children were taken captive. In 145 B.C. Gaza was conquered by Jonathan the Hasmonean (brother of Judah the Maccabee) who destroyed the suburbs of Gaza by fire. The Jewish King Alexander Jannaeus, after a siege of a year, brought destruction and massacres around 96 B.C. Neither Alexander the Great’s bloody conquest in 332 B.C. nor the brutal one by Alexander Janneus in 96 B.C. could vanquish Gaza who endured and rose again.


Around 50 B.C. Gaza became magnificent and so luxurious under the Romans.
Gaza would reach the peak of civilization; its exports in the 5th century A.D.
(during the Byzantine Empire) reached as far as England, Ireland and Geneva,
Gaza’s schools graduated leading theologians such as Barsanuphius, John of Gaza
and Mark the Deacon, whose writings profoundly influenced Christianity at its
early stages. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, famous Gazan Jews included
the medieval liturgical poet Israel Najara, who is buried in Gaza’s local
cemetery, the Sabbatean Prophet Nathan of Gaza as well as Rabbi Abraham Azulai
who lived in Gaza in 1619. It was there that he wrote “Hesed le-Avraham”, the
book for which he is remembered.

The arrival of Islam in 637 A.D. would not change Gaza’s unique character.
Gaza remained a central crossroad. From the 8th century it sheltered the most
highly celebrated school of law in all of Islam, founded by Muhammad Al-Shafi.
The Crusaders under Baldwin I fought hard the Arab armies to control Gaza. In
the 1170 the Crusaders lost Gaza to Saladin.

Gaza became a prosperous city under the Mameluks — between the 13th and 16th
century. It was “A city so rich in trees it looks like a cloth of brocade spread
out upon the land,” wrote the 14th century Syrian scholar Al-Dimashqi. In 1516,
at the battle of Khan Yaunis, Gaza’s major southern town, Turkish forces under
the Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha defeated the Mameluks and Gaza fell under Turkish
control. In 1660, Hussein Pasha made Gaza the capital of Palestine. Napoleon
captured the Gaza city In February 1799, but when his forces entered the city
terrible plague engulfed them and forced Napoleon to retreat from Gaza. In 1832
Mohammad Ali made Gaza part of Egypt. Soon it became part of the Ottoman Empire
who fought the British three battles in defense of Gaza. The Ottomans lost it to
the British in the third battle of Gaza on Nov. 7, 1917 during World War I.

Sir Archibald Murray who led the first and the second battle of Gaza in
1916-1917 was dismissed and replaced by “the Bull”, Gen. Edmund Allenby, who
deceived the defenders by attacking Beersheba and then besieging Gaza. Gaza fell
and Allenby’s road to Jerusalem opened up.

Israel captured Gaza in the 1967 war. On Sept. 12, 2005, the Israeli Cabinet
formally declared an end to the military rule of Gaza; the IDF dismantled the
settlements and retreated behind the walls and electric fences. It was another
astonishing reminder of Gaza’s history and defiance.

The name Gaza means “strength and prevalence”; many layers of civilization
lie beneath its busy streets.

To uncover part of the ancient history of Gaza visit the Israel Museum, or
the private collections of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) generals who have
Gaza’s history on display in their villas. When we ride “Salh El Deen” (Saladin
road), which connect Gaza’s cities towns and villages, we are riding a road that
had been crossed by the greatest leaders, generals, Assyrians, Persians,
prophets, Pharaohs, Alexander the Great, the Crusaders, Napoleon Bonaparte, the
Turks, the British, even American presidents and chiefs of the CIA.

Gaza is still with us on planet earth and tells us: Armies have come and
armies have gone and ancient Gaza has endured and risen repeatedly. Villains
failed to send it in orbit to mar or sink it in the Mediterranean Sea; there is
a lesson to be learned.

Gaza once again honored its past by defeating the IDF who is armed by the
most sophisticated American war machines. The IDF retreated and sealed Gaza by
massive walls, electric and electronic fences. The IDF’s companies continued
sucking Gaza’s water out, and they are selling it back to the Gazans! Aren’t
they so smart? Nothing gets in or out without the IDF approval. Any goods in or
out have to go through security examination. That by itself is a unique process
since it destroys most of the goods, but who dares to object? Apart from the
high taxes, their service to the little Palestinian producers is to keep the
fresh produce (mainly vegetables, fruits and flowers) in the checkpoints for

The large Israel companies come to the scene, they take what Western
supermarket chains need, and sell it for a very nice price; for fresh mint or
flat leaf parsley we pay one British pound or two US dollars, for a small little
bag of it. How much do you suppose Israel’s fat cats pay the little farmer in
Palestine, for that bag, around two cents, that is if he is lucky to sell in the
first place?

That is the happy scenario, the alternative is what happening now in Gaza:
Utter devastation. Israeli military actions since 2000, according to the Israeli
civil rights group B’Tselem, have killed four times as many civilians and eight
times as many children as the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian

Israeli factories got special production lines for the Palestinians; God
knows why? Since they can consume only what the IDF allows them to, they are
easy money for greedy capitalists in Israel.

As all of us watched recently on CNN, BBC and Aljazeera news networks, Gaza
is being subjected to a new style of holocaust. What the Gazans have to counter
the IDF’s state-of-the art high-tech weapons with? They have their right to
resist, and they improvise in making their primitive missiles. After all, they
are imprisoned by the IDF.

Gazans are denied the necessities of existence. Why? Don’t we campaign for
animal protection? Don’t we argue with the Japanese over whaling, don’t we pass
laws against foxhunting? Why then ignore what is happening to the millions of
refugees from Palestine? They are under attack on daily basis, for demanding the
implantations of the UN resolutions that definitely granted them the right to
return to their homes. The irony is that the same resolutions gave birth to the
State of Israel!

— Dr. Saeb Shaath is a writer, thinker , public speaker , Middle
Eastern affairs expert, and a former diplomat. He is the co-founder of Irish Map
(Medical Aid for Palestine).

Continue Reading
Advertisement maximum width of this area is 740px, but it can be any height maximum width of this area is 1083px, but it can be any height

Culture & Arts

Justice for Palestine, Jews Step Forward.

These are the moral voices of bravery and justice inside JEWS STEP FORWARD

This indie documentary highlights twenty-four moral voices within the American Jewish community speaking on behalf of justice for the indigenous Palestinian people.  Directed and produced by Elika Rezaee and Marjorie Wright, this powerful, truthful, controversial documentary has been screened at festivals around the world.  It has been recognised by the 2016 justice Awards Festival and given a certificate of merit as the best “Human Rights, War and Peace film in the category Documentary Feature” by the sixteen International Film Festivals.

“Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of the colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”– Robert F. Kennedy. These are the moral voices of bravery and justice inside JEWS STEP FORWARD.

Continue Reading

Culture & Arts

Stealing ancient Palestinian artefacts

Zionist entity ‘Israel’ has frequently stolen and acquired ancient artifacts from the occupied Palestine using its occupation forces,unauthorised dealers and looters.



Residents of Bethlehem district, are accusing ‘Israeli’ occupation forces of illegally seizing an ancient artifact from their town. 


The incident took place in the southern occupied West Bank ancient town of ‘ Khirbet Tuqu, which is said to be the birthplace of the biblical prophet Amos, and is home to a number of Byzantine-era archaeological sites. 

Video footage, taken by residents of ‘Khirbet Tuqu’, shows ‘Israeli’ occupation forces escorting a large flatbed truck out of the village in the middle of the night. On the truck is the massive stolen stone of baptismal font that dates back to the sixth century A.D., that was once part of an ancient church in the village. 

The unique stone, which has been widely  studied by the Palestinian specialists, is easily identifiable in the video.  The baptismal font is reported to be one of three rare basins of its kind. The other two were found in the Church of Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and the Church of Beit Jibrin, an ancient Palestinian village near Hebron that was forcibly depopulated in 1948, by Zionist terrorist Ganges.  

The font was seen placed for long at the site of the ancient church in ‘Khirbet Tuqu’, the ancient town of Tuqu‘, before being stolen by unauthorised dealers using a huge forklift in 2000.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi tweeted the video of the seizure, calling it “typical.” “Israel steals our land & resources, plunders our archaeological/historical sites, appropriates our cultural heritage & seeks to eradicate all evidence of our identity & continuity in our ancestral homeland–a settler-colonial attempt at erasing evidence of the indigenous,” she said. 

Palestinian news agencies reported that just few days before the stealing of the baptismal font, ‘Israeli’ occupation forces seized 700 acres of Palestinian land around the Herodion Mountain south of Bethlehem. 

In 2002, Tuqu‘ Municipality managed to retrieve the font and placed it in the vicinity of the mayor’s house, pending the construction of a local museum.

Zionist entity ‘Israel’ has frequently stolen and acquired ancient artifacts from the occupied Palestine using its occupation forces,unauthorised dealers and looters.

Zionist entity ‘Israel’ has been accused of stealing ancient Palestinian artefacts in the past, the Zionist entity ‘Israel’ has been using archaeology as a key tool in reinforcing its bogus territorial claims to historic Palestine, to give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.

Today, there are almost 834,000 armed ‘Israeli’ colonialist settlers living in colonies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

International law, Geneva, Hague and UNESCO Conventions prohibit Zionist entity ‘Israel’ as an occupying power from assuming ownership of occupied West Bank antiquities or transferring such artifacts out of the territory. To date the occupation forces has looted and seized tens of thousands of artifcats from Gaza strip during the period of Gaza’s occupation and hundreds of thousands looted artifacts from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which were occupied by the Zionist entity in 1967.

SaebPress /WAFA

Continue Reading

Culture & Arts

Venezuela What Next?

Hugo Chavez Mausoleum

SaebPress – Belfast
By Fra Hughes 

Fra Hughes

There is a radical quarantine in place in Venezuela at the present time as the COVID 19 Coronavirus appears to gain a foothold in the country.The fear at this time is for the Barios, in the capital Caracas, which may be susceptible to the virus, as they are among the most densely populated and poorest parts of Venezuelan society.

The people who live there might pay a heavy price in sickness and death.

As if the county was not going through enough at the moment, as the continued economic political and financial sanctions placed on the democratically elected government of Nicholas Maduro, by the European Union and the North American administration continue to take a toll, now the extra burden of fighting the virus is being placed on the state’s finances and health service.

Public political discussions in Caracas

In the early days of the pandemic, the Venezuelan government sent planes to neighbouring countries to allow Venezuelans to return home.

Countries like Columbia at first refused to facilitate this passage of people, this repatriation. They soon changed their mind and were then actively encouraging Venezuelans to return home, many of whom were sick.

Buses transporting the people home from Columbia were tested and found to be contaminated by the virus leading to many more infections and concern from the Venezuelan government and the people that their citizen’s, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, may have been deliberately infected in order to further burden the Venezuelan state.
A pass is now required, for essential travel only, for anyone moving between cities in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

The health service is free in Venezuela and the government on behalf of the people is working very hard to contain and control the virus to protect the population.
The economy is under huge pressure as many things are now bought and sold in American Dollars.

Inflation due to sanctions and black marketeering caused by those profiteering from the political turmoil in order to put pressure on the government has caused the national currency the Bolivar to devalue substantially.

The guaranteed monthly minimum wage in Venezuela is approximately  800,000 Bolivars that equates at the present time to about 4 Dollars.
A bottle of wine, Gato Negro, costs 17 Dollars. This is indicative of how precarious the economy has become.

Many people have to find a second job or perhaps create their own employment, making bread to sell, or cheese or some other home-based work.

Thankfully the government is continuing with the CLAP food distribution programme, with Local Committees for the Supply and Production of food.
An elderly person, for example, paying 50 cents, one Dollar being equivalent to approximately 2240.000 Bolivar, to the CLAP food aid programme, was able to receive  5 packets of cornflower, 3 kilos of rice,4 kilos of beans, a box of 30 eggs 5 kilos of sardines and a kilo of milk.

There are also subsidised farmers markets run by the state,
In order to survive, for many, it is essential to use the government subsidised food market. This is a crucial lifeline for the most vulnerable.

In the regular supermarkets, 30 eggs cost 600,000 bolivars approximately 2.5 Dollars

Food inflation in Venezuela is dramatic . Huge efforts are being made to develop food sovereignty, whereby Venezuela becomes self-reliant on food production and require no food imports. Farmers are now growing indigenous foods that have for many years been replaced by foreign imports.

Food Sovereignty International delegation

Petroleum is now free for trucks delivering food and ambulances. It is possible, one day per week to fill your car, with gasoline for less than 1 dollar for 45 litres of fuel.
Water electricity and telephone payments are not being sought from those who cannot afford to pay them.

Unlike western capitalist economies where if you fail to pay, the service is withdrawn, the services in Venezuela are being kept in place as the people support the government, the government supports the people.

The recent shipments of gas petroleum from Iran along with fuel supplements will enable the petrochemical industry in Venezuela to regain its impetus and stimulate the economy.Alongside the oil, Iran and China are sending technical experts to repair and renew the oil infrastructure and an Iranian supermarket with food sent from Iran will soon open for the first time.

It is hoped that the current relationships that are strengthening and deepening between Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela will continue.A new Petrochemical company similar to Venezuela’s CITGO may operate between Venezuela and China, thus replacing the oil export contracts, which previously went to North American companies to China.China requires a huge amount of oil and gas to complete its economic infrastructure programme and the completion of the One Belt One Road economic transport route through Eurasia and Africa.

An economic boom could be on the horizon if Venezuela and its government can withstand the sanctions, gaining enough time to see this process through.

At this time there is a land dispute between Venezuela and neighbouring Guyana.

Guyanas indigenous population was first occupied by the Dutch and then by the British.

Guyana gained freedom from the United Kingdom in 1966. It is the only country in South America to have English as its official language. Guyana has a diverse population. In order to populate and exploit the land, Britain brought several different nationalities to colonise the region.

With a population of less than  800.000 but with huge mineral gas and oil reserves within the boundaries of the Amazon, America and Britain are supporting Guayana in the claim for land that Venezuela has since its Independence in 1824 has claimed belong to them.

With elections on December 6, this year to the National Assembly it is hoped the extreme right will lose some of its seats and more moderate opposition to the government may be elected. The continuing efforts by  North America to facilitate a coup against the democratically elected government of Maduro means there is still much concern for the future in Venezuela.

It can only be hoped that the goodwill of the people and the governmental programme for progressive growth in the economy will prevail.
That the security situation will improve and Venezuela can withstand the onslaught of European and American sanctions.

Having recently completed over 3 million social housing units, with increased literacy rates , decreased child mortality rates, improved health, education and welfare for millions of Venezuelans, there are many reasons to be hopeful that democratic socialism will triumph over undemocratic illegal sanctions.

Continue Reading