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Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

Palestinian aid worker blogs on Gaza strife

Staff writer

An aid worker living in Gaza has been sending in blog entries to the nongovernmental organization he works for, reporting on the dire situation his family and fellow Gaza residents are experiencing amid an Israeli military drive that has reportedly killed more than 1,000 so far, the international NGO's Japan branch said Thursday.

News photo
Dark times: Palestinian aid worker Jawad Harb watches over his children as they study by the light of a gas lantern at their home in Rafah, Gaza. COURTESY OF CARE

Jawad Harb, a Palestinian who lives in Rafah with his wife, six children and 86-year-old paralyzed grandfather, has been working with CARE since 2002, managing a program supporting women's centers in Gaza. But with the recent Israeli incursion to stop the Hamas rocket attacks on its territory, he has been forced to cease all operations.

Instead, using an electric generator to run his computer during the daily three-hour ceasefire, Harb has been blogging eyewitness accounts of the crisis since the start of the conflict on Dec. 27. The English entries, translated into several languages, including Japanese, are periodically updated on CARE's Web sites, as well as being featured in various other media outlets.

Recent attacks temporarily drove Harb and his family from their home. "The leaflets came yesterday, telling us our neighborhood would be attacked. The whole population of the area is terrified. We have nowhere to go. My neighbor checked at the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) shelter but it was full. Overflowing. There is nowhere to go. We waited to be bombed," reads an excerpt from a mobile phone conversation Harb had with CARE on Jan. 12.

However, Miyuki Suganuma of CARE International Japan told The Japan Times that they were later informed that Harb and his family had returned to their home safely. "The U.N. has apparently set up a new temporary camp near Harb's neighborhood for emergencies. New blog entries and photographs are expected soon," Suganuma said.

Past entries from Harb depict the fear and helplessness his family have endured. CARE International Japan said it is the only international agency providing fresh food to the people of Gaza, but added it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep operating.

"We normally deliver a week's worth of fresh vegetables to 60,000 people every week, but with the current crisis, are only able to reach 200 to 300 families at a time," said Suganuma.

For more information, visit CARE International Japan at www.careintjp.org/ To read Harb's blog in English see www.careintjp.org/news/gaza_staff_blog.html

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The Japan Times

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