Gisha executive director speaks at UN Conference in Ankara

Gisha executive director Tania Hary at UN conference in Ankara, Turkey. September 2019. Photo credit: United Nations

Gisha executive director Tania Hary at UN conference in Ankara, Turkey. September 2019. Photo by United Nations

September 12, 2019. Gisha’s executive director, Tania Hary, participated yesterday in the 2019 International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East organized by the UN in Ankara, Turkey. Journalists, diplomats, and representatives from government and civil society are participating in the two-day event. Hary spoke on the opening panel, the topic of which was the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory. The panel was moderated by Seda Pumpyanskaya, Director of the Strategic Communications Division in the United Nations Department of Global Communications and, in addition to Hary, featured Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer, State of Palestine; Korkut Güngen, Director General, Multilateral Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey; and Peter Mulrean, Director, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Representative Office, New York.

After presenting Gisha’s work, Hary emphasized that that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not “the sad outcome of a lack of resolution to conflict,” but rather the “result of attempts to further the occupation”. She mentioned that considerable Israeli control over Gaza is manifested in severe restrictions on freedom of movement and access. The humanitarian crisis is man-made, she said, and cannot be resolved simply by building desalination plants, injections of aid, or job-creation — though all are urgently needed. Instead, what Gaza residents need most is hope and freedom.

In response to the moderator’s question about what can be done to improve quality of life in Gaza, Hary urged the audience to view the crisis through the eyes of Gaza’s young people, who make up the majority of the Strip’s population, and who are often viewed as a threat rather than being valued for their vast potential. In this vein, she advocated for more educational programs and additional platforms that will enable dialogue between youth in Gaza and their counterparts outside the Strip.