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Friday, 12 June 2009

A Boy and an Artificial Leg: A Gaza Story

While I cannot express my admiration and gratefulness for the tireless work of the staff of PCRF, in anticipation of Sobhi’s arrival, the irony fails to escape me, that of this innocent and unassuming son of a Gazan farmer, whose life is forever altered by a tank shell propelled by Israel and subsidized by the US, to venture alone across the world to be the recipient of another US manufactured implement; a plastic leg.

And now, as if things could get any worse, even the possibility of getting Sobhi here seems grim.

Coming from Gaza , Sobhi must cross the Rafah border to begin his journey from Cairo . But Egypt is refusing to grant Sobhi entry. It is the predicament that so many Gazans face following the January massacres: hospitals lay in ruins, medicine scarce, embargos on everything from medical equipment to medical teams that have flocked to Rafah’s border in droves from all over the world.

When Obama spoke in Cairo on January 4, the closest major city was Gaza , where children flooded the border, imploring the US leader to exert some pressure on Israel to open the border and end the blockade that has imprisoned the entire population for nearly two years. Children held banners with slogans like, “a light of hope for Gaza children”, and “ Gaza children appeal for help”. Sahar Abu Foul, a nine-year-old girl who attended the rally, said that the children in Gaza want Obama's help "to secure a life like all other children." But considering his rigorous schedule, Obama couldn’t pencil in a visit to the border to address this young crowd. However, just before his arrival, Congress invested further money into fortifying the border area, allocating an addition 50 million dollars to secure the Rafah border, making Sobhi’s crossing all the more unlikely. More