this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr

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Sunday, 10 May 2009

mud bricks mixed with straw and resilience

Photo by Eva Bartlett

Which century do we live in? Why is it that one of the most advanced nations in the world, in terms of education, health, gross national profit, military, the arts and a slew of other ways in which we measure our life is given the support to make sure that another group of people live in third world conditions? This is a deliberate policy. This poverty and lack of quality of life is not due to natural disaster or the misfortune of being born in an area devoid of fertile ground and fishing seas.

Israel is still not allowing concrete into Gaza. As Israel bombed and shelled Gaza during its war on the same, houses and infrastructure, including schools, universities, mosques, United Nations compounds, have been destroyed. The international community (people from everywhere) and the governments of countries pledged aid, delivered aid, but what is the good if the aid cannot be let in?

Well, the Palestinians are very resilient, and they are building their houses from water and mud. With our energy resources rapidly dwindling, maybe the last laugh will ultimately rest with them as they retain the skills needed to live in a world without modern conveniences. I really don't think we should be putting it to the test, though.

The story is here, from In Gaza. The picture is lifted from the blog, too, and there are many more wonderful pictures.
Jihad el-Shaar is pleased with his mud-brick house in the Moraj district of Gaza. The 80-square metre home is a basic one-storey, two-bedroom design, with a small kitchen, bathroom and sitting room, made mostly with mud and straw.

“My wife and our four daughters and I were living with family, but it was overcrowded, impossible. We knew we had to build a home of our own,” Shaar said. “We waited over two years for cement but because of the siege there is none available. What could we do, wait forever?”

So he decided to do it with mud.

Building earthen structures like bread ovens and small animal pens is a technique many Palestinians are familiar with, but extending the method to houses isn’t a notion that has taken hold in Gaza.

Jihad el-Shaar got the idea from his travels in Asia and the Middle East. “I travelled in Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Turkey…they all use some similar technique of building houses from earth. All you need is clay, sand and some straw.” These he mixed with water, and poured into brick moulds that were left in the sun to dry for three days. Good enough to build a fine house with.

While some Gaza residents speak of shame at the way life has ‘gone backwards’ with the siege – using cooking oil in cars, wood fires for cooking, and horse and donkey carts for transportation – Shaar is proud of his clay home.

“In the winter it is warm, and in the summer it will be cool. There’s no problem with leaking, and this type of house will last a lifetime,” he says. “And it was cheap to build. A house this size made of cement would cost around 16,000 dollars at least. This one, because it was made with simple, local materials cost just 3,000 dollars.”

Prior to Israel’s crippling siege on Gaza cement would have cost 20 shekels (about five dollars) a bag. Now, with cement among the many banned items, what does make it into Gaza through tunnels under the Egypt border costs ten times as much.
Read more.
I keep posting the pictures of these non-violent protests in the West Bank. They are against the apartheid wall, and the settlements which keep encroaching on Palestinian land. They're very inventive and deserve far more attention. Even if the wider world may not know very much about this situation, I think it should pique the curiosity as to why so many Israelis and internationals join Palestinians in protest.

A group of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals build a shack on the lands of the Jabari family in protest of the illegal building of settlements, next to a shack that was put by the settlers a few weeks ago, close to the settlement of Kyriat Arba, in Hebron, on 8.05.2009. The settlers tried to destroy the shack and put it on fire but they did not manage. They also repeatedly attacked and provoked the group.The Israeli soldiers and police arrived at the scene and violently pushed the group away while the settlers were allowed to stay. 8 Israelis, 2 Palestinians were detained. Photo by: Anne Paq/
A Palestinian throws away a torch that was sent by some settlers who attempted to set h[sic] [fire to] the protest Palestinian shack on fire during an action against the settlements in Hebron on 8.05.2009...The settlers tried to destroy the shack and put it on fire but they did not manage... Photo by: Anne Paq/
An Israeli activist argues with an Israeli settler during an action against the settlements in Hebron on 8.05.2009... Photo by: Anne Paq/

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr