Saleh Skaik is a physician and researcher who loves life and his family. He believes in freedom and dignity for all but sadly for him he lives in battle torn Gaza City. He will love his country but right now like all Palestinians he must yearn for better times.
We caught up with Saleh online, which is difficult these days as Gaza experiences power outages. A brief question and answer session followed:
The Q & A introduction began 'as a person who lives in England I cannot imagine how difficult daily life is for you and your family in Gaza. Please could you tell us a little of how the conflict in Gaza has affected your daily life before, during and after the conflict in the summer of 2014?'
We began by asking are the people of Gaza experiencing shortages of food, water and other supplies?
1. Of course, people in Gaza are facing serious shortages in food, water and other supplies especially medicine, in addition to continuous power cut offs because of the Israeli blockade.
We then asked: Do you think that most people know in Gaza at least one person who has been displaced, killed, bereaved or injured?
2. In "each" family there is either a relative, neighbor or friend who has been displaced, injured or killed.
Obviously the situation impacts on young people so how do the children cope with the disruption in their young lives?
3. This is a critical and painful question; our children cannot and will not be able, at least in the near future, to survive normally like all children in the world. Fear is prevailing their attitude. It is not easy too for their little bodies and minds to understand what has happened or even put it behind them. I am saying this from my personal experience with my daughters, who can hardly move from one room to another without me or their mum, despite the ceasefire.
Has any restoration work begun yet?
4. Not yet, the people in Gaza are still waiting for a final ceasefire agreement between Palestinian factions and Israel.
Do you think the rest of the world really cares about the suffering in Gaza?
5. The people worldwide show true sympathy with the people in Gaza but no one can really feel our suffering unless they are in our shoes.
Do you think that the ceasefire will last, a period of peace follow or that more conflict is inevitable?
6. As long as Israel is still ignoring the Palestinian demands and rights, it is more than possible that violence will return back sooner than expected. In other words, you can't expect that one side (Israel) can enjoy normal life while (Palestinians) are losing their lives under the threat of the Israeli blockade.
Is the threat of ISIL affecting life in Gaza?
7. Unfortunately, the western media cannot differentiate between terrorist acts and freedom fighters; therefore, Israel is trying so hard to convince the world that Hamas and ISIL are from the same root, which is completely fake. This is of course to justify their crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Do ordinary people in Gaza have Israeli friends?
8. Yes, some of them do especially those who need to have direct relations with Israelis like merchants. People of Gaza do not hate Jews, our problem is with Zionism. Many Israeli organizations are against their government’s policy which also includes illegal building of settlements on Palestinian lands 1967.
What do you think will bring long term peace to Gaza?
9. Long term cease fire will be obtained only when people of Gaza get all their rights, freedom of movement including being treated as Humans.
Do you think the USA should withdraw its support for Israel or at least condemn their actions more forcefully?
10. USA as a great power in the world should be independent and not controlled by Jewish lobby, which has already negatively affected Americans. I personally and many others, cannot understand the USA support to Israel during the war on Gaza by paying $250 million dollars just to support the Iron dome system which is, according to Israel leaders, useless.
Did the ground offensive or invasion of Gaza make people more resentful of Israel or Hamas?
11. People are more resentful of Israel, because of Hamas; even I do not personally agree with their policy. But at the end it is a Palestinian faction that fights for the rights of the Palestinian people who suffer more than words can express on the borders of Egypt, Jordan just because they don't have an airport or seaport, while Israelis move in and out freely without any permission from any side. Palestinians on the other hand have to apply two weeks before they plan to travel and wait for Israeli approval, if they get it!
Do people still widely support Hamas?
12. Hamas is part of the Palestinian people, it cannot be ignored; of course some people are against it and some are supporting it.
TEKJournalismUK would like to thank Saleh for taking the time to take part in this brief Q & A session. We hope to be able to publish updates from Gaza City as available and we wish him well.
Please feel free to leave any comments or questions but make sure you are civil. Abusive or spammed comments will be deleted.
In the west the mainstream media has many fish to fry lately - too many, in the form of Scotland's quest for independence, Ebola, sanctions against Russia, the threat of ISIL, Ukrainian fighting and more.
Somewhere along the line the plight of the people of Gaza after a deadly summer has become old news but in reality it is not. The Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza may be over for now but the people of Gaza remain prisoners of Israel.
Op-Ed: Glasgow woman Aqsa Mahmood, 20, is believed to have inspired or encouraged on social media three missing teens to leave home and join her in Syria. Mahmood left the UK to become a Jihadi bride in Syria in 2013.
Sunday all three young women missing from home and reportedly either in Syria or on their way there having followed Mahmood's lead are named as Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, 15.
Speaking on British TV Sunday former foreign secretary William Hague put his spin on current news.
When challenged as to how these young girls could leave the UK without being noticed by border agency staff or governments spies in the UK he tried to shift blame.
Hague reminded the interviewer that people in the UK have objected to government plans for wider snooping on citizens online saying in this case the girls travelling is ultimately the responsibility of the airlines.
But the fact is social media accounts used by Aqsa Mahmood are already monitored by government spies in the UK. She is now deemed a terrorist by British authorities.
A message by Mahmood on Twitter, sent on 15 February, two days before the schoolgirls left London said: "Follow me so I can dm (direct message) you back".
The families of the three girls are begging them to come home while the family of Mahmood calls her a disgrace. Mahmood's family has accused the authorities of failing the girls noting that at least one had contact on twitter with her daughter.
Scotland Yard said it would not discuss matters of surveillance and security reports BBC News but is that good practice or a cop out?
Were the girls simply assessed as just silly girls?
PM David Cameron has promised to do what he can to help return the girls home.
There are now calls for families to take passports away from girls at risk. According to The Times of India "The head of Inspire, a human rights organisation working with Muslim women, called on schools to do more to burst the "romanticised notion" of IS that is being peddled to young people by a slick online propaganda machine."
But there are reports that the girls have crossed into Syria.
Aamer Anwar speaking to the media on behalf of Mahmood's family accused the British authorities of being guilty of "exporting terror" to Iraq and Syria by their failure to act.
"There must be an inquiry as to what exactly the intelligence services are doing with the intelligence they are gathering. "If the intelligence services have this information, surely they should not just be sharing it with Turkey but they should be sharing it with the families so that they can nip this in the bud. "There is no point in declaring war in ISIS in Syria but doing very little to stop young people actually getting on the flights and getting across the border into Syria. "This could happen to any other family across the country."
One thing that continues to puzzle is who are ISIL? They hit mainstream media headlines in the summer of 2014 but reports now indicate they have been around for some time; dating back to the west arming rebels in Syria perhaps?
To some young impressionable men and women ISIL is an 'attractive' organization. Hard as that is for many people to believe it is true. This week we learned that three schoolgirls left the UK, heading for Turkey with an ultimate destination of a terrorist camp in Syria. The Islamic State terror group know how to use technology to frighten the west but also attract in-comers.
Videos of mass beheadings and burning alive a hostage cause outrage but 'fans' of IS choose to focus their attention elsewhere.
The three schoolgirls who abandoned the UK for a life in Syria with ISIL are named as Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16 and a third 15-year-old girl. The families of these girls did not know they had left the UK until after the event. This has led to questions about the Turkish flight they boarded.
Three young girls travelling alone to Turkey in winter and no person raised an alarm.
The hope is that bad weather has delayed the girls crossing into Syria. They arrived in Istanbul Tuesday.
Turkey experienced unusual snowfalls this week making travelling difficult.
The girls, who attended Bethnal Green Academy school, are described as intelligent and good students.
There is no insinuation or allegation that the school is involved in anyway.
PM David Cameron however said "their case proves the fight against Islamist extremist terror is "not just one that we can wage by the police and border control." "It needs every school, every university, every college, every community to recognise they have a role to play. “We all have a role to play in stopping people from having their minds poisoned by this appalling death cult". The Metropolitan Police disclosed the three girls were questioned by officers in December as part of a "routine inquiry". According to The Times none of the three was subsequently monitored by counterterrorism police."
Cameron may try to use these girls to push for more Internet spying and censorship but that will not stop determined young people; it will however breach confidentiality and privacy rules of individuals.
The girls are not an isolated case. Sky News reports "The number of Westerners who have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join IS is thought to be about 3,000, including as many as 550 women, according to the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue."
Parents must play a part in preventing their children being radicalised but how many truly know 'what gives' with their teenage son or daughter?
Our parents feared we would experiment with drugs, get pregnant, contract an STD or drink too much alcohol but some parents now face their children wanting to join a bunch of cut-throats.
For young girls the promise of a marriage when they arrive in camp seems persuasive. In reality it should be feared.
But if ISIL lure young women to join them, have babies willingly or not and then raise their children in camp we are all looking at a frightening future.
Police description of the three missing girls:
As Greece put forward its latest idea for a deal stocks slightly rallied but once Berlin said 'nein' the slipped back. The euro dropped 0.3% to $1.1358 which is good news for tourists from non-Eurozone countries visiting Europe but terrible news for countries that use the Euro such as Spain, France and Greece.
Germany quickly refused the latest suggestion from Greece as it "fails to fulfill conditions of an EU/IMF bailout program" but is there any variance on the original deal that will suit both countries?
He is a published author, an authority on British politics, reports for Channel 4's Dispatches and Unreported World and was voted Columnist of the Year at the Press Awards in 2013.
And importantly he is principled and has standards.
Oborne has demanded an investigation into how the Telegraph handled or suppressed HSBC stories.Wednesday, the day after Oborne resigned, the Telegraph ran the latest HSBC news story which related to a police money laundering raid on HSBC's private Geneva bank.
If you have the time read Oborne full post at Open Democracy. It appears to show a worrying culture at the Telegraph. In at least one case a news story is accused of being nothing more than an advertising spread. Another news story was allegedly pulled simply to appease advertisers.
The Telegraph deny Oborne's allegations.
In 2004 the reclusive multi-millionaire Barclay brothers, owners of the Ritz hotel bought the Telegraph.
So does big money own the news in the UK and decide what you read?
Chelsea fanzine editor David Johnstone believes the incident could have severe consequences for the club’s reputation. “Because of the actions of possibly half a dozen people on a Metro train in Paris all the supporters are going to be labelled as racist,” he told BBC Radio Five Live. “I think the majority of Chelsea supporters are disgusted by what’s happened. The 2,000 who were in Paris today support a Jewish-owned football team where the majority of players are black and foreign.”
According to a report in the Daily Mirror though "Chelsea fan DEFENDS racist chant and claims black passenger was pushed away because of lack of room."
Following information leaked to the French media, by Hervé Falciani, a former employee of the bank. some European countries have been reclaiming massive amounts of unpaid tax. The UK has not.
The Tory led coalition have tried to shift the blame onto their predecessors in government, Labour, but that has not worked. Labour may have been made aware of wrongdoing in their dying days of office but the coalition government has been in office almost five years and failed to act.
Of the 1,000 possible tax avoiders highlighted in the UK only one person has been prosecuted; HMRC did recover £135m. "French authorities have recovered £188m in taxes and fines from a list of 3,000 clients and Spain has recovered £220m, also from 3,000 clients."
Guess it depends who has the will to investigate and what government priorities are. In the UK it is blaming the poor, vulnerable and welfare claimants for any economic woes.
HSBC said Wednesday they continue to work with Swiss authorities maintaining they have done this since the issue was raised in 2008.
"More air strikes will be carried out today and tomorrow in coordination with Egypt,"
Reports claim that Libyan jets loyal to the official government also took part in the air strikes.
The US led coalition just secured another active partner in the fight against ISIL terrorists but at such a price.
When the men were killed is not known but the footage was released February 15.
ISIL terror groups have various nationalities held captive. Following the doomed Arab Spring in Egypt and uprising to oust Gaddafi in Libya nationals from Egypt travelled to Libya to try and find work.
In spite of government warning desperate people still cross into Libya pitting their lives in danger.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military commander in Egypt, now runs the US backed government in his country. He has swift and tough action in response to the killings.
Do you Supermarket shop for groceries online? There are some obvious pros and cons but perhaps now is a good time to utilise this facility. Most major supermarkets in the UK offer an online service, but first shall we look at a few of the pros and cons?
Using public transport to shop means travel costs are easily costed into shopping. Online shopping wins hands down for us. Car drivers should also consider parking and travel costs to asses value for money. Many supermarkets offer free parking and cheaper deals on petrol fill-ups on their forecourts. An incentive to visit the store but you will have to work out the figures to determine value for money.
Carrying shopping home on public transport, or on foot is a pain. However, it can limit your spend. Would there be a temptation to overspend online? Could be for some people. You know your shopping habits best, so decide on that basis.
Asda and other mainstream supermarkets in the UK offer a 10% price check after you shop, be it online or in store. You need a computer however to do the check either way. Any vouchers given can be applied to your next shop.
Booking a time slot when you log on to shop is essential. They soon disappear. You could find that your cannot get you shopping picked and delivered for one or two days. No good then for urgent shopping. Online shopping does help with those who like to plan and organise their purchases.
With two rescue dogs the bonus with an occasional online shop is that we can stock up on heavy multi packs of dog food paying the best bulk buy price.
People view shopping in different ways. Some customers like to browse then touch and feel the goods. Others use shopping as a reason to "get out of the house" and see other people. Personal circumstances obviously play a part.
Personally it would be a shame if online shopping became the only way. Wandering along a busy high street bustling with people can be fun. However for those times when time is tight, or maybe you are ill, heavy shopping is required and you have no transport, online supermarket shopping comes up trumps. Unless you always walk to the supermarket to shop it will not cost any more.
For this shopper a mixture of online and in store shopping fits the bill.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog