I have tried many times to write about my experience at the closed Rafah border crossing with Egypt that has left thousands of people in Gaza stranded. Every time I start, a deep sigh comes over me. Shortly after I feel paralyzed, and finish by tearing apart my draft. I have never found it this difficult to write about a personal experience. No words can capture all the suffering and pain our people in Gaza deal with collectively under this suffocating, inhumane Israeli-Egyptian siege.
As I write, I am supposed to be somewhere in the sky, among the clouds, flying to Istanbul to begin my graduate studies. But I could not catch my flight, as I am still trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip, sitting in darkness during the power cuts caused by fuel crisis, trying to squeeze out my thoughts during what is left of my laptop’s charge.
As much as I am attached to Gaza City, where I was born and spent all 22 years of my life, each day I spend trapped in it makes me despise living here. Each day that passes makes me more desperate to set myself free outside this big, open-air prison. Each day makes me unable to stand the mounting injustice, torment, brutality and humiliation.
Hardships and happiness
I have never experienced as many extreme ups and downs as I did this month. Despite the hardships throughout September, I also had some immensely happy moments. I think will remember them the rest of my life. This is life in Gaza: highs amid lows, everything in the balance, nothing secure from day to day, no plans, no guarantees.
At the beginning of September, I started the process to secure my visa for Italy. I am supposed to be there on 10 October to celebrate the publication of my first book, the fruits of my work over more than three years of writing. It is the Italian version of my blog, Palestine from My Eyes, which I started in May 2010. My book launched on 22 September. It was impossible for me to attend its release in Italy.
My blog was never about me as an individual. It is rather about a young Palestinian woman who grew up in the alleys of a densely inhabited refugee camp with an imprisoned father. It is about a woman whose awareness of her Palestinian identity was shaped in a besieged city under the brutal Israeli occupation. My blog is about our people, who are routinely dehumanized and whose stories are marginalized and unknown to the majority outside. It was about our Palestinian political prisoners and their families, whose lost and missing loved ones have become statistics, numbers which fail to communicate all the injustices they face under the Israeli Prison Service, which denies them their most basic rights.
The book, inspired by the harsh and complex reality we are forced to endure, makes me feel that my responsibility as a voice for our Palestinian people has doubled. Some amazingly dedicated Italian friends are fixing a busy schedule of events, book fairs, conferences and presentations in many different cities. My presence in Italy is very important, because I am sure few people there have met Palestinians. I am anxiously waiting for the Rafah border to open so I can be there for these events, to help my book spread as widely as possible.
I read on Reuters last Tuesday: “According to Abbas’s request, Egypt agrees to reopen Rafah border crossing on Wednesday and Thursday for four working hours each.”
My first reaction was laughter. Where was Abbas while the Rafah border was closed to thousands of patients seeking medical care abroad which they cannot access in Gaza, or students whose dreams to pursue their education overseas were crushed?
We are not only paying the price for the unsettled situation in Egypt. We have even become the victims of our own divided Palestinian leadership. It makes me furious to think that the opening of Rafah crossing, a lifeline for our people in Gaza, has come under the influence of the internal division between political parties competing to seek favors from our colonizers. The ruling factions seem to have become participants in the collective punishment we suffer.
The headline infuriated rather than relieved me. Opening the Rafah border for eight hours over two days was not a solution to the crisis caused by the complete closure of Rafah for more than a week.
The same day, in the taxi heading home, I received a call telling me I finally got a visa to Italy. I was so happy I forgot the conservative nature of my society and started screaming out of happiness in the car. The visa process took shorter than I thought. I called my friend Amjad Abu Asab, who lives in Jerusalem and received my passport for me, since Israel prevents Palestinians in Gaza from visiting the city, urging him to find someone coming into Gaza via the northern Erez checkpoint on Wednesday.
This can be my chance to leave Wednesday or Thursday, I thought. My happiness didn’t last. “Erez checkpoint will be completely closed from Wednesday until Sunday, 22 September, because of the Jewish holidays,” Amjad said. “No express mail, and no person, can cross Erez to Gaza during this period.”
“What an absurdity!” I screamed. “When the Rafah border crossing finally reopens, Erez checkpoint closes. We have to deal with Israel from one side and Egypt from the other. How long will we live at the mercy of others? There must be some emergency exit.”
Life of uncertainty
“The definition of uncertainty in the dictionary is Gaza,” my fellow Electronic Intifada writer Ali Abunimah once told me. That describes in short my life at the moment, and the lives of our people generally: a life of uncertainty.
I had no choice but to wait for the Jewish holidays to end for Erez to reopen and to get my passport. But on Wednesday, I insisted on going to Rafah. I refused to sit at home, powerless, unable to do anything but wait. At Rafah border crossing, I saw a gate of humiliation. People crowded on top of each other, roamed the waiting hall, waited impatiently for some news to revive their hopes, and ran after policemen, asking for help and explaining their urgent need to travel.
I met many of my fellow students who were stuck as well. They came with their luggage, hoping they could leave, but ended up dragging it back home.
I stayed until 2:00pm, hoping that I could at least register. I did, I think. I explained my situation to a policeman at the gate. He took my scanned copy of my passport and returned after about five minutes, saying, “Your name is registered.” I am not sure what he meant, but he did not say anything else. I asked him if there was a certain date I could leave. His reply was, “Only God knows.” I wish someone could tell me when I will be able to leave so I can have a break from worrying. But no one knows anything, “only God knows.”
While doing an interview with the Real News Network that morning at the border, an elegant elderly man in a formal black suit and holding a black bag interrupted. “I would like to make an interview,” he said. “I speak English, and if you like, I can do Hebrew.” The old man looked very serious as we awaited his poignant words. “This border, all this area, was mine. They came and stole it.” As he continued, the Real News crew and I realized the interview was descending into farce. “I have bombs in this bag and I can explode the whole place in a second!” the man said. We started laughing and said jokingly, “Go explode, then. We’re standing by you.” Yes, this Rafah gate of humiliation must be wiped away so we, Palestinian people in Gaza, can have some breath of freedom.
The Rafah border crossing closed again after 800 persons left to Egypt on Wednesday and Thursday. I am sure this closure would be easier to understand if it was a natural disaster. But knowing that other human beings are doing this to me and 1.7 million other civilians living in Gaza, while the rest of the world looks on, is too difficult to believe. It is more painful and shocking to realize that our neighboring Arab country, Egypt, is joining our Zionist jailers and collaborating with them to tighten the siege.
This experience made me believe that human dignity has become a joke. International law is nothing but empty, powerless words printed in books. We are denied our right to freedom of movement, our right to pursue our education, our right to good medical care, and our right to be free or to live in peace and security. But no one in power bothers to act.
I spent September worrying about the border and my dreams which may fade away if Rafah remains closed. This takes a lot of my energy and makes me suffer from lack of focus and sleep, and makes it hard for me to sit and express myself in writing or with a drawing. Our people’s tragedy caused by the ongoing closure of Rafah border continues, and the crisis is deepening. Living in Gaza under these circumstances is like being sentenced to a slow death. Act and set us free. It is time for these injustices we face on a daily basis to end.
Feeling proud! Feeling high! Our defiant people in Jerusalem lifted my spirit which had been bruised through these last few weeks by the continuous entrapment in the besieged Gaza Strip, unable to leave for my graduation studies. I cannot put into words how proud I feel of our people in Jerusalem.
On Wednesday night, I had a long and exciting chat with my friend Amjad Abu Asab in Jerusalem who makes me feel very connected to Jerusalem, as if I am there amidst the bustle and lights of the old city’s streets. He described to me what happened and didn’t miss a single detail. Thanks to him, I could picture my dear city Jerusalem, Al-Amoud gate, the clashes and the demonstrations that happened there, the atmosphere, the anger, the smell, everything.
Amjad was one of the demonstrators who gathered at Al-Amoud gate in the old city. When I called him to ask about the situation in Jerusalem, I expected his voice to be filled with frustration and anger. His positive reply inspired me. “We managed to send a powerful message of rejection and defiance to the Israeli Occupation and the radical Jewish settlers who repeatedly break into Al-Aqsa mosque. The message that Jerusalem is Arab and Palestinian and we won’t be easily defeated.”
It does make me angry to know that our people go through such brutality on a daily basis, and that we can only support them behind the fences and walls as our physical presence is impossible under the Israeli apartheid regime. But it makes me very proud because our people are still determined and defiant. They pay a huge price for living in Jerusalem which is subjected to systematic ethnic cleansing policies but they pay the price happily because they know that “to love a land is to live and die for it.”
Amjad was one the people who was attacked by the Israeli soldiers. But that couldn’t depress him and he still told me the story with a positive tone. “I was beaten up with batons today,” he said with laughter.
I asked him how all these clashes started. “Many people gathered at Al-Amoud gate to rebel against the repetitive provocative raids of Al-Aqsa. Some radical settlers broke into the demonstration with two Israeli flags and kept waiving them amongst the angry protesters,” he replied. “There was a Palestinian salesman who sells shoes on a little table at Al-Amoud gate. One woman grabbed a shoe and threw it at that radical settler in response to his insulting provocations, and then all of a sudden all the protesters started showering shoes collectively at the soldiers.” The excitement and pride that I could feel in his voice as he narrated the story to me made me burst into laughter.
When our Palestinian people in Jerusalem threw shoes at the faces of the Israeli soldiers and radical settlers, they were attacked with tear gas bombs and batons. You cannot compare our people’s harmless shoes to the murderous weapons the Israeli forces used to suppress our people. But our people’s faith in our just cause empowers them with strength, poise and determination to stand firm in the face of Israel’s brutality and to keep resisting.
“A tear gas cannister hit my friend’s head and he was sent to hospital. He was rescued miraculously because the bomb hit the wall before it hit his head. Otherwise he could have been martyred,” Amjad said. Amjad’s friend was sent to hospital, but was thankfully released after a few hours. His situation is stable.
About 40 other Palestinians were injured in these clashes including three women, some paramedics and journalists. 15 people were jailed including three children, Ahmad Khanfar 14, Omar Al-Sheilk Ahmad 15 and Omar Abu Sarriya 14. Our Palestinian brethren in Jerusalem were terrorized, wounded and detained in the name of maintaining security and protection for the Zionist colonial settlers.
The Israeli Occupation Forces were savage and aggressive but they failed to make our people surrender. Israel’s brutality inspires our determination to keep up the fight. Every time they tried violently to disperse the crowd, they gathered again in different locations. The Israeli soldiers kept chasing them wherever they went.
Keep an eye on Jerusalem. Our people in Jerusalem face such challenges and risks on a daily basis. These vicious practices by the Israeli Occupation Forces have only one goal: to continue the systematic ethnic cleansing of our people.
At this very moment, passing through Rafah border crossing and travelling abroad for my MA studies in Turkey is no longer what I wish I could do. I don’t wish for anything more than for me to be in Jerusalem! This post is dedicated to my friends and strong people in Jerusalem. I would like them to know that we feel for you. Even if Israel builds a thousand more checkpoints to divide our people, we will stay united and feel for each other’s suffering. Keep your chins up you fighters of Jerusalem! They will not manage to Judaise our Arab Palestinian Jerusalem or our holy Palestinian soil. Free Palestine from the river to the sea!
I left very early in the morning with my youngest sister Tamam, heading to the Rafah border crossing with her to give her as much moral support as I could. Having experienced what can only be described as the torture of waiting at the border previously, I know very well how much of a nightmare going there is.
Tamam returned home from Turkey after 9 months of studying Turkish Language there. About a year ago, she earned a scholarship to study for her BA in journalism in Ankara. After enjoying three weeks of her presence at home, the time had finally come for her to return to Ankara, as her summer vacation is about to end and she has to go through many procedures in order to register for the first semester of her undergraduate studies.
In fact, she was scheduled to leave through Rafah border yesterday. Hearing of the crowds who have been trying to cross in vain for days- if not for weeks, and the restrictions that Egypt imposed on Rafah border, led us to decide to stay at home. A few more hours of sleeping would be worth more to us than the hours we would have wasted if we had gone to the border. Yesterday the Palestinian side allowed five buses in but Egypt allowed only one.
Today we decided to go, hoping that she would be fortunate enough to cross the border. As we were pulling her luggage into the car, we started laughing while mocking the dark situation we have to go through, while knowing deep inside that we will eventually have to return back home. But we insisted to go and see the situation with our own eyes. It was hard to imagine to what extent the border situation and the travelers’ crisis is getting worse, especially during the difficult times that Egypt is going through.
My sister didn’t realize that a normal decision like returning home for a visit may threaten her to lose her scholarship and keep her locked inside Gaza. She didn’t know that she should have considered such a thought a thousand times before making up her mind. Such a decision is supposed to be normal in a normal situation, but not in our case, which is very far from being normal.
As we arrived at the hall where travelers gather in hope to hear their names called out so they can ride the bus that drives them inside the border, we were shocked to see the numerous people waiting already there. Some people had been waiting since sunrise and had been trying to cross for over a week. Most of them were students traveling for educational purposes or patients leaving for medical reasons.
The scenes of the children who were lying down and sleeping on chairs and those of elderly people who could barely stand on their feet were the most heartbreaking. Elderly people were shouting at the police which was forming a fence in front of the travel coordination offices. They were powerless and had nothing to say or do, but were trying their best to keep people’s anger and frustration in control and to maintain some semblance of discipline.
We were ashamed of complaining about anything, just sitting and watching people huffing and puffing. We met people who have been trying to cross for about two weeks.
At about 1 pm, the police said via speakers, “We ask everyone to return back home. We received a notice that Rafah border is completely closed and not even a single Palestinian will be able to cross due to the killing of 22 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. We don’t know when the border will re-open. Keep following the Internal Ministry Website for more information.”
I expected people to rebel and break the police fence and turn the hall into chaos. But they just turned their backs, dragged their luggage and went home. I heard many saying, “at least they finally said something. At least we didn’t have to wait until sunset.” For many people this scenario has been happening for many days, so they expected the same to be repeated again and again.
My sister has expressed her experience in few moving words she wrote on her Facebook page. The following is my translation of her words.
“I dragged my luggage very early in the morning to Gaza’s only exit to the outside world, though I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to cross. Dad stood watching me from a distance and finally he stepped closer and uttered one sentence, “May Allah ease your way my dear”. I cried a lot. More accurately, we both cried. I wondered why I cried despite having a strong desire to leave this city after a 3-week visit which was more tiring than joyful, while worrying about Rafah border’s situation. This complicated city is becoming more choking. It makes us weep out of happiness and sorrow. It restricts our freedom. It forces us to learn to adapt to the inadaptable. At this point of frustration and thinking negatively, I can’t think of any reason why we’re so attached to this mysterious city. Nevertheless, one can’t but be always longing to return to Gaza.”
My sister’s flight is scheduled to leave from Cairo to Istanbul on Thursday. It is very likely that she will miss her flight, like many other Palestinians living in Gaza.
Why should Tamam or any other traveler living in Gaza pay the price for anything happening in the neighboring countries? How many dreams are going to be crashed or how many more patients are going to die before we have a permanent and a secure way to travel? Will we ever live a normal life? This situation is utterly insane and inhumane. Collective punishment policies must end.
The Palestinian people have their own calendar in which almost every day of the year goes back to a painful and atrocious massacre that the Israeli Occupation committed against our people. Everyday we have to look back in anger and remember those who fell victim in the course of the our Palestinian history that has been recorded by our people’s blood, sacrifices and suffering under the most brutal and inhumane colonial entity of Zionism.
Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron on Feruary 25, 1994, when Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler and a member of the far-right Israeli Kach movement, opened his hateful fire on unarmed Palestinian Muslims while they were in Sujoud position inside killing 29 of them and wounding 150 within 48-hour time. If he wasn’t killed by survivors then, the number of victims would have continued to rise.
And guess what the Israeli Occupation did then? They just locked those victims who were left between dead and injured inside and didn’t allow ambulances access to rescue them and forced media blackout. But once the news about this massacre spread out, revolutionary Palestinian charged with anger rioted throughout Hebron and the number of martyrs about Palestinian people reached 50. In the weeks following the massacre, thousands of Israelis traveled to Goldstein’s grave to celebrate Goldstein’s actions. You learn this and then you laugh in bitterness at the absurd that all this is happening to us and then we are the ones accused of hatred and terrorism because we’re just resisting and defending our lands and people’s lives and dignity.
And the world was watching Israel mass killing us inside our worshipping place and did nothing. Israel doesn’t have respect for any place. This was proved again during the 22 successive days of Gaza massacre in 2008-09 when mosques, schools, hospitals and ambulances didn’t survive from Israel’s destructive internationally banned missiles. Will Israel be ever be held accountable? Nobody knows as the impunity of Israel by the world’s silence and their commitment to Israel’s security continues.
Today as we are commemorating the lives of those victims, we renew our loyalty to bling their souls justice so they can rest in peace. Israel will sooner or later confront justice and be punished for all their crimes against inhumanity.
Samer Issawi’s battle isn’t done yet. He is still continuing his hunger strike with great poise for the 115th day till he reaches an absolute agreement that guarantees his release. He knows very well how Israel never holds an agreement and that finding a way around to keep him in custody is always possible.
Today the Israeli Magistrate court issued a release order for Samer on the 6th of March as that court first sentenced him to 8-month imprisonment when he was first arrested. However, this doesn’t guarantee his release. So time for us to celebrate hasn’t come yet. For Samer is a Palestinian, he still has to face another Israeli military court which ordered to hold him captive on the basis of the same accusation; violating his release agreement and entering the West Bank illegally and other charges based on secretive information that no one has the legitimacy to have an access to but their judges.
Remember here that Samer Issawi had been freed after serving 10 years of his 30-year sentence as a part of Shalit’s swap deal that happened between Hamas and Israel on October 18, 2011. He was re-arrested before spending less than 8 months outside jail accusing him of violating his release agreement which is all bullshit and had nothing to do with reality!
Before Samer’s release in Shalit’s swap deal, he was forced to sign a paper that obliges him to never enter the West Bank territories or else he would be re-arrested and continue serving the rest of his 30-year sentence. This is nothing but an inhumane, brutal and humiliating order that comes as an example of the conditional freedom that Samer and all other released prisoners received.
However, even when we think of this unfair charge, no one would be found guilty here but Israel who couldn’t make their mind what the borders of Jerusalem were. Samer was arrested within the municipality of Jerusalem in an area called Kufr Aqab which everyone agrees that it is within Jerusalem. However, they manipulate facts to whatever suits them to prove him guilty.
Currently Ofer military court still insists on this detention order against Samer and that Samer should stay in prison for another two decades to continue what was left from his 30-year sentence! According to Israel’s democracy, there are two approaches in their judicial systems; one serves for the Israeli jews and the other serves for the gentiles, the Palestinian Arabs.
In Israel, if two people, one is a Palestinian and the other is an Israeli Jew, were arrested on some charge, these two go through different judicial procedures. Only in Israel, when a Palestinian convict has to face two types of courts on the same accusation: civil and military court! Does this have any thing to do with justice? This is but an emphasis on that Israel is an apartheid regime. This is injustice and racism.
Samer is done with the Israeli civil court and he still has the military court to face and for that he is still on hunger strike! Our role here is to double our efforts as injustice cannot win!! Free Samer Issawi!
Read Samer Issawi’s letter which he wrote yesterday, February 20, to his supporters whom he thinks that they are not just solidarity activists but “warriors”.
Read more about Samer Issawi’s case here.
These are some photos from my cousin Rawan’s traditional Henna party on Sunday, December 16. I can’t tell you how unique that was. Everything was traditional, even the decoration. Everyone came wearing Palestinian traditional dresses. As the guests’ original villages were different, their traditional dresses were different as. I had so much fun comparing their dresses and I reached one conclusion which is that the bride’s dress was certainly the most beautiful.
No modern music was played at all. Women exchanged roles: some played drums, some danced while others sang traditional songs that they orally learned from their mothers and grandmothers. Moreover, the young girls including Sarah, Roba, Amjad and I performed Dabka, the fork dancing of Palestine. We enjoyed every moment!
During the Henna party, a woman took responsibility of painting Henna on the girls’ hands one after another starting with the bride. We all have different shapes of Henna paints on our hands and everyone is proud, showing off hers to the others.
At the end of the Henna party, we served Summaqiya to the guests. Summaqiyya is a traditional kind of food that our grandparents used to serve for guests in their weddings in our original villages and it has become a basic custom in the Palestinian people’s weddings. Some relatives arrived early this morning and cooked a huge amount. It was so delicious that Sarah and I had two big dishes on our own! I think it was made with so much love for Rawan.
My grandmother used to describe to me vividly how their weddings looked like. Today, I felt emotional while recalling my grandmother’s description and glancing some of her memories from the old days as watching the women celebrating. By reviving our traditions, I could feel our grandparents alive again. I hate it when I observe how badly our Palestinian traditions and customs got influenced by TV and modern and western music and culture. Nothing is as good as our precious heritage. Thanks Rawan for bringing us back to the old days, the days that our grandparents used to live peacefully in Beit-Jerja and Deir-Sneid. We shall return and finish the olive harvest that our grandparents had to leave behind assuming that they would return in a matter of two weeks to continue it.
After the attack on Gaza ended on late November 21, within less than an hour after the truce was declared, tens of thousands of Palestinian people marched Gaza streets celebrating a victory that was painted with the people’s pains, blood, sacrifice, and determination. According to the latest update of Ministry of Health in Gaza, 191 people were killed including 48 children–16 of them were below the age of 5, 12 women, and 20 elderly people. Moreover, 1492 people were injured, including 533 children–195 of them were below the age of 5, 245 women, and 103 elderly people.Check my blog for names, ages, and circumstances in which 174 victim were killed.
The people of the Gaza Strip returned eagerly to their ordinary lives right after the attack ended. But still, their happiness was incomplete with much loss among their souls; with many dreams killed before they even blossomed. They couldn’t fully be happy with so much painful scenes from the 8-day attack; reflected in their memories and with the sense of insecurity that Israel left them with. They knew Israel would violate the agreement any moment—which is what actually happened. Four people lost their lives after the truce and many violations were reported against Israel.
However, they didn’t allow their pains and fears to stop them from celebrating, to depress their spirits. Out of their sufferings, they have found a gateway to more hope. They believe that a day shall arrive when she shall overcome all these obstacles and they keep faith in their just cause. Their pains turned into more willingness to sacrifice and determination to keep fighting for their justice and the justice of every Palestinian killed. They turned their suffering into a level of positive energy anyone can imagine. They filled out Gaza’s streets and chanted with a united voice for freedom.
Personally, it has taken me quite a while to recover. I can still feel my body unconsciously shaking and I would frequently wake up from nightmares with a scream of horror. I found it difficult to concentrate on my studies nor fully enjoy being in the presence of my friends or family’s company–I would be physically with them but mentally somewhere else.
Soon after the attack ended, I had to go through another sad event–having to say goodbye to another best friend that has been a main source of comfort and security in these times of difficulties. Very early in the morning, at 7:00 am on November 26, I left my house to greet him one last time before he traveled. It was a very sad feeling that I was going to part with another close friend without knowing when I would see him again, especially after I already experienced this with my two sisters who traveled about a month earlier.
However, on this day that was depicted to me as another black day in my life, nature opened its arms to wrap me with warmth as I saw a rainbow. I was amazed when I saw that beauty in Gaza’s sky. It felt like God wanted to convey to me through this rainbow that things will be alright. This rainbow filled my heart with peace, warmth, tranquility and happiness. Luckily I had my camera then and I had the opportunity to commemorate that exceptional natural scene that I haven’t seen for long time.
#GazaUnderAttack| Photos: A trauma in my neighborhood as IOF attack a car behind my house killing one and injuring another
Today, at around 2:30 pm, I witnessed one of the most horrifying scenes, not on TV, but with my own eyes. I will never forget the massive sound that hit the car behind my house. I still can hear it resonating in head.
I was laying down under my blanket feeling exhausted, desperate to fall asleep after almost 6 six days of continuous bombings on Gaza. I remember exactly how I heard the missile falling, like a whistle. I closed my eyes right, shut my ears hard with both hands and waited to hear the explosion. I’ve been having this moment of horror for uncountable times since Wednesday.
This time was different though. The dearest people to my heart, my family and I, were few meters away from being murdered. The rocket hit right behind my house.
As I heard the rocket hitting, I got up in panic as the house was still shaking and Mum was screaming, wandering around herself, traumatized. Dad rushed outside. I could see the fire flames from my window, the smoke filling the sky. It smelled very bad. The speakers of the mosque behind my house started shouting at people not to be crowded near the target, fearing another attack. We realized that a car was targeted and another car that was driving behind got seriously destroyed.
Within minutes, the fire service and the ambulances arrived. The people in the neighborhood were all outside, looking in silence while staring at this atrocious crime. I saw men crying as the paramedics were collecting the pieces of Hussam Abdeljawad’s body who was the victim of this attack. He was torn to pieces, spread all over the street. The street was stained with his blood. I was too traumatized while watching all this happening that I couldn’t shed even one tear. I was about to burst though.
One man, Fadel Jouda, was injured in this attack as he was driving by accident behind the attacked car. He happened to be the manager doctor of Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza. His situation is still very critical.
Within 15 minutes, fire service put on the fire and the ambulances rushed to hospital with the body of Hussam Abdeljawal and the injured Fadel Jouda, leaving two charred cars behind and a traumatized crowed of people, fearing that any one of them could be in that place.
Check this slideshow below of the photo me and my younger bother Mohammed have taken:
Israel has risen the death toll in Gaza to 104, including at least 25 children, 10 women and 10 elderly people. More than 770 people were injured since Wednesday, mostly children and women.
Check this post of the names and ages of those who fell victims in the past days of the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza since Wednesday. Because we’re not just numbers, I’m going to keep updating this post as long as I’m surviving. Israel is killing souls of innocent people in Gaza. Israel escalates its inhumanity and more victims are being murdered. Act now to stop this mass killing in Gaza. Israel gets its immunity from your silence.
Because we are NOT just numbers, I compiled the names and ages of 174 people murdered during the 8-day Israeli attack on Gaza, November (14-21) and the circumstances in which they were killed. Their blood won’t go in vain. The murder of those innocents has just made us more determined and more willing to pay any price for our freedom from this inhumane Israeli occupation. Israel must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity sooner or later. RIP
1- Ahmad Al-Ja’bary, 52 years old.
2-Mohammed Al-Hams, 28 years old.
3- Rinan Arafat, 7 years old.
4- Omar Al-Mashharawi, 11 moonths old.
5-Essam Abu-Alma’za, 20 years old.
6-Mohammed Al-qaseer, 20 years old.
7- Heba Al-Mashharawi, six-month pregnant, 19 years old.
8- Mahmoud Abu Sawawin, 65 years old.
9- Habis Hassan Mismih, 29 years old.
10- Wael Haidar Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
11- Hehsam Mohammed Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
12- Rani Hammad, 29 years old.
13- Khaled Abi Nasser, 27 year old.
14- Marwan Abu Al-Qumsan, 52 years old.
15- Walid Al-Abalda, 2 years old.
16- Hanin Tafesh, 10 months old.
17- Oday Jammal Nasser, 16 years old.
18- Fares Al-Basyouni, 11 years old.
19- Mohammed Sa’d Allah, 4 years old.
20- Ayman Abu Warda, 22 years old.
21- Tahrir Suliman, 20 years old.
22- Ismael Qandil, 24 years old.
23- Younis Kamal Tafesh, 55 years old.
24- Mohammed Talal Suliman, 28 years old.
25- Amjad Mohammed Abu-Jalal, 32 years old.
26- Ayman Mohammed Abu Jalal, 44 years old.
27- Ziyad Farhan Abu-Jalal, 23 years old.
28- Hassan Salem Al-Heemla’, 27 years old.
29- Khaled Khalil Al-Shaer, 24 years old.
30- Ayman Rafeeq sleem, 26 years old.
31- Ahmad Ismael Abu Musamih, 32 years old.
At 8:20 am, as a result to an Israeli inhumane attack on Deel Al-Balah, central Gaza, three people were killed. The list of murdered victims goes longer>>>
32- Osama Musa Abdeljawad, 27 years old.
33- Ashraf Hassan Darwish, 22 years old.
34- Ali Abdul HakimAl-Mana’ma, 20 years old
At 8:45 am_ 9:00 am, warplanes attacked several places including Rafah, Khan-Younis, and Tal Al-Sultan, southern Gaza, leaving three killed>>
35`- Mukhlis Edwan, 30 years old.
36- Mohammed Al-Loulhy, 24 years old.
37- Ahmad Al-Atrush, 22 years old.
In a series of attacks on several places on central Gaza at noon, two more people fell victim:
38- Abderrahman Al-Masri, 31 years old.
39- Awad Hamdi Al-Nahhal, 23 years old.
40- Ali Hassan Iseed, 25 years old, killed in an attack on his motorbike in Deer Al-Balah, central Gaza, at 8:10 pm, Novebmer 17.
IOF attack another motorbike in Deer Al-Balah at 8:20 pm, leaving two more killed:
41- Mohammed Sabry Al’weedat, 25 years old.
42- Osama Yousif Al-Qadi, 26 years old.
In an attack on central Gaza, to the west of Al-Masdar area, at 9:10 pm, two more people people killed:
43- Ahmad Ben Saeed, 42 years old.
44- Hani Bre’m, 31 years old.
At 9:40 pm, Israel attacked Qdeih family’s house in west Khan-Younis, Southern Gaza and a woman got killed.
45- Samaher Qdeih, 28 years old.
46- Tamer Al-Hamry, 26 years old, died after being seriously injured in an attack on Deer Al-Balah.
On November 18, the fifth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
Israeli warplanes shelled the house of Abu-Alfoul family in northern Gaza, killing two children and injuring at 13 at least, mostly children and women.
47- Gumana Salamah Abu Sufyan, 1 year old.
48- Tamer Salamah Abu Sufyan, 3 years old.
An Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a house that belongs to the family of Abu Nuqira in Rafah killing one person:
49- Muhamed Abu Nuqira
An Israeli war plane fired a missile at a house in an agricultural land east of Bureij camp, in the Central Gaza Strip, killing one child and injuring 2 other children:
50- Eyad Abu Khusa, 18 months old.
Two people were killed, one of them a child, when an Israeli missile hit a beachfront refugee camp in Gaza City:
51- Tasneem Zuheir Al-Nahhal, 13 years old.
52- Ahmad Essam Al-Nahhal, 25 years old.
Medics also reported finding the body of woman under the rubble of a house in eastern Gaza City who had been killed in a strike earlier in the morning.
53- Nawal Abdelaal, 52 years old.
At 3:10 pm, November 18, Israel rocked a house belongs to Al-Dalou family in Sheikh-Redwan area, west Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including 4 women and 4 children.
Soon after Al-Dalou massacre, 2 more were killed, a father and his son, in an attack on a car for water supply in northern Gaza.
65- Suheil Hamada, 53 years old.
66-Mo’men Suheil Hamada, 13 years old.
In an airstrike that targeted Nussairat camp after that two people were murdered and 10 at least got injured
67- Atiyya Mubarak, 55 years old.
68- Hussam Abu Shaweish, 35 years old.
69- Samy Al-Ghfeir, 22 years old, killed in an attack on Shijaiyya area, west Gaza.
70- Mohammed Bakr Al-Of, 24 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Yarmouk st. in Gaza city.
At 8:00 pm, November 18, the ministry of health in Gaza has reported that Israel has risen the death toll in Gaza to 69, including 20 children, 8 women, and 9 elderly people. Moreover, Over 660 person got injured since Wednesday, including 224 children, 113 women, and 50 elderly people.
At 10:00 pm, November 18, an Israeli warplane attacked a motorbike near the ministry of finance roundabout, west Gaza, killing a father and his son:
71- Ahmad Abu Amra, 42 years old.
72- Nabil Ahmad Abu Amra, 20 years old.
At 10:10 pm, November 18, an Israeli warplane rocked a house belong to Nasser family near Abu-Sharekh crossroad in northern Gaza, killing a child and his father.
73- Hussein Jalal Nasser, 8 years old.
74- Jalal Nasser, 35 years old.
On November 19, the sixth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
At 12:10 am, an Israeli warplane attacked Mahmoud Al-Hashash house in Rafah killing one woman.
75- Sabha Al-Hashash, 60 years old.
At 1:00 am, an Israeli warplane rocked a car in Rafah killing two people:
76- Saif Al-Deen Sadeq, 27 years old.
77- Hussam Al-Zeiny, 30 years old.
78- Emad Abu Hamda, 30 years old, killed after being seriously injured in as a drone fired a rocket at Beach camp, west Gaza.
79- Mohammed Jindiyya, mentally disabled, killed in an attack on Helles roundabout in Shijaiyya, west Gaza.
At 4:10 am, Israel committed another atrocious crime shelling a house belong to Azzam family that is full of children. 3 people were killed in this attack and at least 40 injured. Medics said that more than 15 children have arrived Shifaa hospital, three of them are in a very critical condition.
80- Mohammed Iyad Abu Zour, 4 years old.
81- Nisma Abu Zour, 19 years old.
82-Sahar Abu Zour, 20 years old.
83- Ahed Al-Qattaty, 38 years old.
84- Al-Abd Mohammed Al-Attar, 51 years old, killed in an attack on Beit-Lahya, northern Gaza at 6:00 am.
85- Rama Al-Shandi, 1 YEAR OLD, killed as four F16s airstrikes hit former security compound Al-Saraya in Gaza City.
In an Israeli attack on Al-Qarara area to the south of the Gaza Strip, two farmers were killed at 8:50 am. In the same attack, a 4-year-old girl was seriously injured.
86. Ibrahim Suleiman al-Astal, 46 years old.
87. Omar Mahmoud Mohammed al-Astal, 14 years old.
As a warplane rocked a motorbike in Khan-Younis, southern the Gaza Strip, two people were killed:
88. Abdullah Harb Abu Khater, 21 years old.
89. Mahmoud Saeed Abu Khater, 34 years old.
An Apache warplane fired a rocket at a car in Al-Berka street in Deer Al-Balah, killing three people:
90. Rashid Alyan Abu Amra, 45 years old.
91. Amin Zuhdi Bashir, 40 years old.
92. Tamer Rushdi Bashir, 30 years old
93- Hussam Abdeljawad, 32 years old, killed as an F16 rocked his car in Saftawi street, northern Gaza, at 2:25 pm.
94- Ramadan Ahmad Mahmoud, 20 years old, died this morning after being seriously injured in an attack that hit Al-Maghazi camp, two days ago.
95- Mohammed Riyad Shamallakh, 23 years old, killed as IOF targeted a car in Tal Al-Hawa, southern Gaza city.
At around 4 am, two people were killed as an Israeli warplane fired a missile that hit Al-Nusseirat Camp, to the west of Gaza city.
96- A’ed Sabri Radi, 48 years old.
97- Ameen Ramadan Al-Malahi, 24 years old.
In an attack on Al-Shorouq building in Gaza City which contains several media offices, 2 were killed and 3 journalists were seriously injured.
98- Ramez Najib Harb, 29 years old.
99- Salem Boulis Sweilem, 53 years old.
100- Muhammed Ziyad Tbeil, 25 years old, killed in an attack than hit central Gaza.
At 6:55 pm, an Israeli warplane attacked Al-Bureij camp killing two people:
101- Arkan Harbi Abu Kmeil, 24 years old.
102- Ibrahim Mahmoud Al-Hawajri, 34 years old.
At around 8:00 pm, an Israeli warplane shelled Shhada family’s house in Nusairat camp killing two people from the same family– a child and an elderly.
103- Khalil Ibrahim Shhada, 53 years old.
104- Osama Walid Shhada, 17 years old.
At around 9:00 pm, Israel committed another massacre against Hjazi family killing a father and his two sons, and injuring at least 15, most of them are children and women.
106- Suhaib Fo’ad Hjazi, 2 years old.
107- Mohammed Fo’ad Hjazi, 4 years old.
108- Fo’ad khalil Hjazi, 46 years old.
On November 20, the seventh day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
At around midnight, an Apache rocked a house in Rafah that belongs to Nassarsa family, killing two siblings and injuring 10 others.
109- Mohammed Tawfeeq Al-Nassasra, 20 years old.
110- Ahmad Tawfeeq Al-Nassasra, 18 years old.
111- Yahya Akram Ma’roof, 38 years old, a farmer killed at 9:20 am as an Israeli warplane attacked agricultural lands in Al-Atatra area, northern Gaza. Four other farmers were injured in this attack.
In an Israeli attack on an agricultural land in Beit-Layha, northern Gaza, at 10:10 am, two people were killed:
112- Yahya Mohammed Awad, 15 years old.
113- Bilal Jihad Al-Barawi, 20 years old.
114- Mahmoud Rezq Salman Al-Zahhar, 30 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Mughraqa are in the middle of the Gaza strip.
115- Abderrahman Hamad Abu Hamza, 22 years old, killed at 12:10 pm in an Israeli attack on Mokhabarat buildings, west Gaza.
116- Mohammed Abed-Rabbo Yousef Bader, 24 years old, killed at 12:20 pm as IOF targeted Abu Tama’a family in Deer-AlBalah, in middle the Gaza Strip, at 12:20 pm.
117- Ahmad Khaled Doghmosh, died in Egypt after being transferred to a hospital in Egypt for being seriously injured in an airstrike that hit Tal Al-Hawa on November 18.
Within 1 hour and while negotiating the truce between Israel and Hamas, Israel committed another massacre killing at least 14 people.
At 4:20, an Israeli warplane rocked a car in Al-Sabra neighborhood, leaving four people from the same family killed and torn to pieces:
118- Ahmad Jameel Hamdan Doghmosh, 30 years old.
119- Sobhi Nemer Mohammed Doghmosh, 29 years old.
120- Salah Nemer Mohammed Doghmosh, 29 years old.
121- Musab Mahmoud Rushdi Doghmosh, 22 years old.
122- Ameen Mahmoud Asad Al-Dadda, 22 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Baghdad street in Shijaeyya, west Gaza at 2:30 pm.
In an attack on Kishko street in Zaytoon street, two children were killed while playing football in front of their house:
123- Mohamoud Rezeq Ashoor, 54 years old.
124- Saqer Yousef Bulbul, 57 years old.
125- Ayman Rafiq Abu Rashid, 33 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Jabalia camp, northern Gaza.In the same attack, a 5-year-old girl was seriously injured.
In another attack on Al-Shawwa family’s house in Shijaeyya, west Gaza, a young woman arrived at Shifa hospital as charred pieces. 20 people were injured in this attack at least, 3 cases are severe.
126- Yosra Basil Murtada Al-Shawwa, 18 years old.
At 5:55 pm, an Israeli warplane attacked a press car working for Al-Aqsa TV station in Nasser street in Gaza city killing two journalists. They were just holding their cameras, reporting on the ongoing attacks…
127- Mahmoud Ali Ahmad Al-Koomi, 19 years old.
128- Hussam Mohammed Abderrahman Salama, 30 years old.
At 6:10 pm, two more were killed in an attack on Beit-Hanoon, northern Gaza.
129- Mahmoud Mohammed Hussein Al-Zahry, 21 years old.
130- Tareq Azmy Mustafa Hjeila, 40 years old.
At 6:50 pm, an Israeli missile hit a car in Deer Al-Balah killing two people:
131- Mohammed Musa Abu Eisha, 24 years old, the manager of Al-Quds educational radio.
132- Hassan Yousef Al-Ostaz, 22 years old.
At 8:30, two brothers were killed in an Israeli attack that targeted a motorbike in Bilbeisy street in Rafah:
133- Ahmad Abed Abu Moor, 24 years old.
134- Khaled Abed Abu Moor, 19 years old.
At 9:00 am, two cousins were killed in an Israeli attack on Deer Al-Balah:
135- Mohammed Ahmad Abu Sitta, 21 years old.
136- Salem ‘Ayish Abu Sitta, 32 years old.
137- Shawqi Abu Sneima, 24 years old, killed as Israeli warplane targeted his motorbike in Rafah.
At 11:45 pm, two children were found as pieces in Al-Shouka area, western Rafah.
138- Ibrahim Ahmad Mahmoud Hamad, 16 years old.
139- Mahmoud Kahlil Al-Arja, 16 years old.
On November 21, the eighth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
At 9:25 am: an Israeli warplane hit two places in Northern Gaza:
140- Fadi Mousa Al-Qatnani, killed in as attack on Beir Al-Na’ja area, northern Gaza.
141- Mustafa Awad Abu Hamidan, 23 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Shafi’y mosque compound in Jabalia, northern Gaza.
At 11:20 am, an Israeli warplane attacked a group of people in Khan-Younis, killing a child:
142- Ahmad Awad Abu’liyyan, 15 years old.
143- Fares Sbeita, 25 years old, died at noon after being seriously injured in an attack on Shijaeyya, west Gaza.
A young girl and her elderly father were killed at 1:30 pm in an Israeli attack on a group of civilians in Abasan area, west Khan-Younis.
144- Ameera Abu Nasser, 15 years old.
145- Ibrahim Abu Nasser, 80 years old.
146- Mohammed Adnan Al-Ashqar, 22 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Khuzundar gaz station in Al-Twam area, northern area, at 2:00 pm
147- Mahmoud Abu Khusa, 4 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Nafaq street in Gaza City.
At 2:40 pm, an Israeli missile hit a house belongs to Al-Assaly family killing a man and his son and daughter:
148- Talal Al-Assaly, 47 years old.
149- Ayman Talal Al-Assaly, 17 years old.
150- Abir Talal Al-Assaly, 10 years old.
151- Abderrahman Majdi Na’eem, 6 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Ne’ma building in Gaza City. In the same attack, 3 children from Neim family also got injured.
152- Riham Al-Nabaheen, 13 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on house in Nussairat camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip
153- Mubarak Ibrahim Abu Ghalwa, 24 years old, killed in an attack on the middle of the Gaza Strip
154- Mohammed Mohammed Baker, 27 years old, died after being seriously injured in an attack on Al-Sabra neighborhood on Monday.
155- Ibrahim Mheisin Shhada, 20 years old, killed In an attack on Al-Na’ga street, to the west of Jabalia camp, northern Gaza.
In an attack on a house that belongs to Abu Kmeil family in Al-Mughraqa area in the middle of the Gaza Strip, 5 people were killed:
156- Ramy Abed-Rabbo Abeid, 30 years old.
157- Mohammed Salama Abu Eteiwy, 33 years old.
158- Nidal Hassan Abu Riyad
159- Sa’dy Mohammed Abu Kmeil, 26 years old.
160- Ahmad Abu Kmeil
As negotiations about ceasefire is going, more bombs fall over several places in the Gaza Strip killing a child and injuring at least 7 people.
161- Nader Yousef Abu Mghaseeb, 14 years old.
162- Abderrahman Amer Ayish, 32 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Sheikh-Redwan bridge in Gaza City at 8:50 pm.
163- Mohammed Abu Edwan, 18 years old, killed in an attack on Raffah.
164- Odeh Arafat Al-Shandi, 17 years old.
A man and his daughter from Al-Dalou family were found buried beneath the rubble on Thursday, November 22, after three days of their death. Israel committed a massacre against Al-Dalou family on Monday. The paramedics managed to pull out ten dead bodies in that attack (Check the list from 54 to 64) The death toll in this single massacre rises to 12 people.
165- Mohammed Al-Dalou, 35 years old.
166- Yara Mohammed Al-Dalou, 15 years old.
On Friday, November 23, 3 people died due to their wounds sustained during the 8-day attack on Gaza:
167- Ahmad Samih Ja’roor, 24 years old.
168- Zaki Saeed Qadadah, 42 years old.
169- Jouda Sulaiman Amran Shamallakh, 30 years old.
170- Ramadan Abu Hasanein, succumbed to serious wounds suffered during the 8-day Israeli aggression on the Strip and died at dawn Saturday, November 24 .
Other people killed during the attacks on Gaza.
171- Kamal Mohammed Morad Miqtat, 23 years old, suffered a heart attack that killed him on November 18 due to the Israeli bombings.
172- Ahmad Sulaiman Abu Nqeira, 61 years old killed in an Israeli attack that targeted his house in Rafah or November 18.
After the truce was endorsed at 9:00 pm on late Wednesday, December 21, Israel has violated the truce continuously.
173- Anwar Abdelhadi Qdeih, 21 years old, killed as the Israeli Occupation Forces started shooting at the farmers in the southern Gaza village of Khuzaa, close to the buffer-Zone. In the same attack, 19 other Palestinian were injured.
174- Mahmoud Jaroun, 21 years old, died late Friday, December 23, of wounds he sustained hours earlier by Israeli gunfire east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
On November 29, the Israeli navy has also detained dozens of Gaza fishermen, although Israel agreed to allow Gaza fishermen to go six nautical miles off the coast instead of three.
“We’re counting on you”: In video, Palestinian students in Gaza call on peers around the world to intensify BDS
We, Palestinian students and youth, have created this boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) video call for students around the world, believing in the power of youth to make a change. We specifically want to support and encourage students to attend the UK Student Palestine Conference 2012 on 23 September at the University of Manchester.
We want people around the world to move beyond just feeling solidarity with Palestine and to actually stand up for justice.
Don’t sit behind your TV screen and watch us getting killed, injured and detained in numbers, and feel sorry. Nothing will get better and Israel will, with impunity, escalate its inhumane practices and violations of Palestinians; human rights. When you watch our people dying while waiting for permits to cross the Israeli apartheid check points and react with feeling depressed, the situation will not change. Silence contributes to making our situation worse.
Silence tortures our hunger strikers inside Israeli jails and makes them go through a process of slow death. Silence contributes to the rising number of ill Palestinian prisoners who die at the Israeli apartheid checkpoints. Silence motivates Israel to terrorize us, massacre our people with their “world’s most moral army.” It allows Israel to attack our fishermen and shoot at our farmers while they work for a living in their lands located close to the “buffer-zone” —the ever-expanding area that separates Gaza from Israel. Farmers are banned from working on 35% of our total agricultural land, severely weakening the potential for economic and agricultural development in the Gaza Strip.
Silence is the reason behind the ongoing blockade on the Gaza Strip for the sixth year. Silence contributes to the Israeli occupation and supports it to continue, as I say in the video, “While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.” Silence encourages Israel to act as a state above law.
Many governments prefers to just watch Israel violating our rights and committing striking crimes against humanity and stay silent, and even continue their ties with Israel, and thereby contribute to their economy. However, you, “civil society, must hold them to account, since governments do not. As we, Palestinians, deserve the same rights as anybody else.”
UK students organize for action
A brave group of UK student Palestine activists decided to move and speak up loudly against Israel’s apartheid regime. They organized the UK Student Palestine Conference 2012 on 23 September at the University of Manchester. It aims to encourage students to put boycott, divestment and sanctions at the heart of their solidarity actions.
Organizers are aiming higher than ever:
Together we will form the steps necessary to guarantee that this year our commitment to justice in Palestine exceeds all previous years; our activism brings achievement and that our campaigns bring results. With the rising Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and the threat it poses to the Israeli Apartheid system, it is now time that we as students go beyond just being members of our Palestinian solidarity group and become change-makers – on campus and across the UK.
The conference’s goals include:
To Give students the ideas and tools they need to build effective campaigns, particularly Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions efforts.
To Link Palestine Societies with other national and international organizations, so that they have better access to outreach, speakers and resources.
To Develop effective and safe methods of communication between UK student activists.
These goals mean building creative and engaging campus campaigns which seek freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians; involving new people on the issues; challenging academic discourses; and with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, creating real political and economic pressures while narrating Palestinian identity.
Those passionate activists who organized this conference are taking big strides towards justice for Palestine and they inspired us to send this video message to support their call for students to come to the conference and get involved.
BDS gives Palestinians hope
We want say to all the activists that we want you to double your efforts because every success that the BDS activists accomplish brings us, the Palestinian people, more hope that justice isn’t far away. Every BDS success makes us feel like we made a stride forward towards freedom, justice, equality and return.
The Palestinian call for BDS was inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid and the responsibility that the international community shouldered to fight injustice and inequality, which helped abolish the apartheid regime. “South Africa is leading the way because they know what racism means. With hard work the same can happen at your university.” That’s why we started our video saying, “We, the students in Palestine, believe in you. But we demand more from you this year. This year we hope for results.”
It’s time to push even further to boycott Israel and isolate it until Palestinians enjoy their full human rights. I believe in the power of BDS to help Palestinians regain their rights and exercise self-determination. Without justice and equal rights for everybody, there can never be a just and sustainable peace in the entire region.
The video includes music by Marcel Khalife, who dedicated his life to singing for justice and freedom for Palestine and immortalized our great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, by singing his lyrics that take one’s breath away.
Please share this video and spread it worldwide. Make our voice heard and act. “Make this year, not only about solidarity but change, too. Palestine needs political action from you. This year, we’re counting on you.”
(@ShahdAbusalama) August 23, 2012
This is my favorite birthday wish. My friend Maath from Jerusalem started it and then all my tweeps started quoting it. Words can’t describe how pleasant this thought is and how much I enjoy daydreaming about it. But as much as I like daydreaming about it, as much as it hurts me when I get struck when I wake up and I have to face the reality, the fact that it can’t happen in matter of a year, or another 21 years, or even a century! It made my eyes, that are always longing to see Jerusalem and feel Jaffa beach’s refreshing breeze again, cry, because I never know how far this dream is from coming true.
But as I was trying to wipe my tears away, I decided to keep thinking positively of the blessings I have. I didn’t stop crying, but the tears I had were happier and filled with hope. While sitting alone, with one eye on my incomplete drawing and another on my blog, I could manage to preserve my positivity. I realized that even the horrible situation we endure in Palestine, under the apartheid regime of Israel, deprived of freedom, security and dignity, is somehow a blessing. It’s true. Palestine has always been my inspiration and my motive in my path toward striving for justice. Palestine, my people’s daily life, and my unique life under constant terror and insecurity have contributed a lot to making me the person I am now. My Palestinian identity and the Palestinian cause have been the main theme of my drawings and writing. I’m very blessed that I was born on this holy lands, even though I have hardly lived even a single day in peace. I’m thankful I was born on this land, which has been always the home carried in my heart wherever I went. I’m thankful and proud because I was born with a Palestinian spirit, unbreakable, dignified, and challenging.
I will not stop dreaming. I will not lose faith that freedom and justice are near. And if I don’t live long enough to witness the freedom of Palestine, my children will. My passion for a just peace will keep pushing me forward, if not for me, for the generations after me. Hopefully, a day will come when we look back at this painful present as an ugly past. There must be a light at the end of the tunnel. No one knows how long it will take to reach the very end of Palestine’s tunnel, but we will stay steadfast until we reach the light, the bright future of justice, freedom, and equality.
My drawing of my birthday is complete now… I’m going to give it a title of “Next Time in A Free Palestine”.
Good news I receive as I’m turning 21:
(@muiz) August 23, 2012
A special Happy Birthday to a wonderful and talented young Palestinian; our latest (and possibly youngest) author @ShahdAbusalama !—
Jareer Kassis (@JareerKassis) August 24, 2012
I’ll take this opportunity to first thank Twitter for introducing many amazing and encouraging people to me, including Jareer and Muiz. These two tweets above are my other my favorite birthday greetings. I wanted share these tweets with you as an introduction to the coming news.
My sis @ShahdAbusalama 's wordpress gonna be translated to Italian in a book called ' Palestine from my eyes'.. PROUD OF YOU!—
ILoveJerusalem القدس (@TamamAbusalama) August 22, 2012
Recently, I got an offer from an Italian writer and published named Luigi Lorusso to translate my blog into Italian and publish it as a book with the name of my blog ,“Palestine from My Eyes.” When I received this news, I left my laptop open and started jumping and screaming with joy. My smile was so big, it left my cheeks hurting for hours! I am mostly happy because the stories I write from a human dimension about Palestinian political prisoners and their families, and my personal writings on what it means to be a Palestinian, will be heard by a wider audience. I’m very grateful for this appreciation of my work. I can’t wait to hold the hard copy of the book! It’s a success that I’ll be always proud of and thankful for.
Something I feel very humble and thankful for is my family and my close friends, who overwhelm me with their love and care. I thank you for being such an inspiration in my life. I hope you always remember that I would have never achieved what I have without your support and love. You were always there to raise my confidence in myself when it was shaking. You were always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. You were always the first to share my happiness and sadness with me. I’ll be in awe of all of you forever.
Today, August 9, is Mahmoud Darwish’s anniversary. I did this drawing to commemorate his soul and to emphasize that his soul is always present as an inspiration for many of us. Mahmoud Darwish is my favorite Palestinian poet and my teacher of life and humanity. He left for us a lot of humanitarian lessons to learn such as “Think of Others”, my favorite poem of him. He is an icon of peaceful resistance. Israel has always thought of him as a dangerous threat even though his only weapon was his creative pen.
Darwish’s simple but highly powerful poems has always inspired me to keep resisting and fighting the Israeli apartheid regime any way I can. His words always take me to my fantasy world that I always dream to live in, a pure world that is full of love, peace and people of conscience.
Here is my translation of his poem “Think of Others”. But it’s certainly nothing like the original!
As you fix your breakfast, think of others. Don’t forget to feed the pigeons.
As you fight in your wars, think of others. Don’t forget those who desperately demand peace.
As you pay your water bill, think of others who drink the clouds’ rain.
As you return home, your home, think of others. Don’t forget those who live in tents.
As you sleep and count planets, think of others. There are people without any shelter to sleep.
As you express yourself using all metaphorical expressions, think of others who lost their rights to speak.
As you think of others who are distant, think of yourself and say “I wish I was a candle to fade away the darkness.”
The influential criteria of occupational stratifications differ from one society to another depending on its culture. If we ask two people, one living in America and the other in Palestine, whether their genders or their social classes have a deeper impact on their lives, their answers will conflict. The social class that an individual belongs to unquestionably affects the shaping of her or his life. Social class is associated with economic status. The higher a person’s social class is, the more potentials and education and work opportunities are available for that person, regardless of gender. However, I think in an eastern society like Palestine, gender has a greater influence on one’s life than social class.
In previous centuries, almost all societies were patriarchal ones in which men were the dominant power and women were seen as “insignificant other”. The stereotype was that men were to work outside, while women were to be housewives and work at home. They played almost no role in the labor force. Women suffered from a degrading view everywhere, so that many of them believed they were inferior to men. They had little or no voice in their political, economic, and social issues of their societies. Women had difficulty even expressing their voices. Female writers had to use masculine pen names to express themselves and to have their voices heard, such as Mary Anne Evans, who wrote as George Eliot.
However, times have changed. In World War I, women filled men’s roles in society. The hardships which forced them to depend on themselves to earn incomes for their families made them realize their inner strengths and abilities. In advanced western societies like America, gender matters less than social class does nowadays. Men and women are almost equal in rights. Thanks to the feminist movement, the woman’s status has been upgraded. She has become an affective member of society, not an inferior to the man as previously depicted. But still, even in modern societies, women are found in the upper occupational stratifications much less than men.
Therefore, I personally think the gap between classes in modern societies is greater. There have been more advances made in terms of gender equality than class equality. A poor man faces the same obstacles that a poor woman faces due to the social class that they were born into. When I was in America, I saw female taxi drivers as well as male taxi ones. I saw policewomen just like I saw policemen. But I also saw women in very high positions in the university and the State Department. The only thing that a woman has not become in America is a president of the United States. But when I think about what made one woman a taxi driver and what made the other a minister, I find one reason: their social classes. The female minister must have been raised in a higher social class that could afford to educate her to the highest levels, which contributed to making her qualified enough to be a minister. But the female taxi driver was not as lucky when she was born into a lower social class that suffered economical problems.
It is important to remember that there is still some discrimination against women, even in “advanced” societies like America. There is a lot of social pressure on women to meet an ideal model, that is impossible to meet, in terms of appearance. When it comes to men, they face none of this social pressure. For example, the woman’s appearance is considered as one of her qualifications. The prettier woman has more potential to be considered for a job opportunity than a woman who is less attractive but has more occupational qualifications. Moreover, a man is paid more than a woman in the same job. Apart from that, women’s bodies are used as a commodity and sex object to sell products, ignoring their intelligence.
In eastern societies, women are becoming more aware of their rights and their abilities to be as effective members of society as men. However, in many ways, women are still seen as extensions of men or inferiors due to cultural reasons, not to religious ones as claimed by many people. The rate of working women is notably less than that of working men. Moreover, men usually occupy the highest occupational stratifications. Few women are ministers, managers, or even doctors.
Many Palestinian men think that they are superior and would feel ashamed if their wives were more educated or had higher positions. For this reason, researchers report many cases of oppression and violence committed by men.
In Palestine, women tend to stay at home regardless of the social class to which they belong. In the rich families in Palestine, educated women tend to be dependent on men and enjoy lavish lives without having to work and earn their own incomes. However, in the poor families, women suffer hard conditions with fewer opportunities for education. And if they want to work, they seek crafts like being either hairdressers or seamstresses.
The types of work that is available for women are more limited as well as the places of occupation. When a young women graduates from her high school and decides to attend university, she usually encounters many obstacles. Her father might not allow her to go to university for financial reasons. Even if her father can afford to pay her university expenses, he will influence her decision of what specialization to undertake. My mother studied nursing. But she always describes how society considers nursing as an inappropriate specialization for women to study for cultural reasons. Female secretaries and doctors suffer the same degrading view of the society. It is not as bad as it was couple of decades ago though.
In our societies, in many families where women can continue their university studies, they tend to become only teachers. When my elder sister graduated from school, she wanted to become a journalist. However, my father recommended that she study mathematics. He did not force her, but he insisted, thinking so much of the social acceptance of women as teachers rather than journalists, that she eventually agreed. But she wanted so badly to study journalism. After studying one year of mathematics, she realized that she could not see herself in that position, where she could never be as creative as she wished. Thus she changed her specialization. Thankfully, we have an open-minded father who has respected her wish. What happened with my sister repeats itself thousands of times in our society but fathers who respect their daughters’ decisions are rare.
Many men still think that women have been created to be merely wives. Their understanding of a wife is someone whose responsibility is to satisfy their husbands’ sexual desire, deliver and bring up children, and do the housework. “Your certificate will eventually hang on your kitchen’s wall” is a sentence that I often hear people address to women. Palestinian fathers tend to be more willing to pay for their sons to further their studies, as their sons can eventually work and contribute to making money for their families. Contrastingly, they believe that it is pointless to pay for their daughters to study, as they will eventually marry and leave the house.
Over recent years in Palestine, the way society looks upon working women has differed from the times of economic difficulty to the times of relief. When Palestinians were allowed to work in Israel, it was socially acceptable for women to join the labor force in Israel during times of economic difficulty. My grandmother worked in an Israeli hospital at that time. However, in better economic conditions, the same behavior was considered as “shameful”. My grandmother said that she retired because of social pressure. However, it’s obvious that the status of women in our societies is getting better. More women are pursuing education, and working women have become more respected.
The role that women and men play in each society depends on the social, cultural, political, economical, and religious factors surrounding them. Those factors differ from one society to another and sometimes from one area to another in the same country. Therefore, it is hard to make a generalization about whether social class or gender matters more in the shaping of one’s life. But hopefully, in today’s world, all societies will move towards increasing equality in both spheres.
P.S: This is an assignment I did for my Literary Criticism class at university. That’s why it is very formal.
On May 10, 39 Palestinians from Bethlehem completed eleven years of deportation from their precious homes. On the very same day, eleven years ago, they were expelled from the Church of Nativity after a siege by the Israeli Occupation Forces that lasted for 39 days: 26 men went to Gaza, 13 to Europe. Since that tragedy, which marked another form of ethnic cleansing, this day has been called ”Deported Palestinian’s Day”.
Since the last swap deal in October, hundreds of Palestinians have joined this category, as 203 ex-detainees were convicted to indefinite deportation. Moreover, ex-detainee Hana’ Shalabi was recently deported from Jenin to Gaza after hunger striking for 45 days to protest having been re-detained after midnight by a huge, aggressive force of Israeli soldiers, and held under administrative detention on February 16. Israel has intensively deported people from the West Bank to either the Gaza Strip or countries such as Turkey, Syria and Qatar. Israel offered administrative detainees Bilal Diab, Thaer Halahla, and Jafar Ez Al-Din Qadan, all on hunger strike for over two months, deportation to Gaza, but they refused this horrible offer and bravely insisted on continuing their battle of empty stomachs against Israel’s injustices and violations.
On May 10, hundreds of people from all generations marched to the sit-in tent for Palestinian political prisoners in Gaza to share the continued suffering of the deported Palestinians. The experience of exile, with all its pain, repeats itself hundreds of times in Palestine at the hands of Israel, as it openly violates the same Geneva Convention it ratified in 1951.
One of the people I am very proud to have met through the weekly protest for Palestinian detainees is a deportee from the Church of Nativity, Fahmi Kanan. Fahmi has been a good friend of mine, despite our difference in age: He is 43 years old, while I am only 20. He makes sure to attend every Gaza activity organized in solidarity with the Palestinian detainees and their families.
I remember very well Mr. Fahmi’s touching words when I first met him and asked him about the reason for his dedication to the detainees’ cause. “I have never lived a settled life,” he said. “First, I was born in a land under occupation. Secondly, I lived the hard life of detention inside Israel’s prisons five times, each under administrative detention. I was only a 17-year-old teenager when I was first detained. Thirdly, when I’m not detained, wherever I walk within the Palestinian territories, I’m ‘wanted’ and chased by the Israeli Occupation. Fourthly, I was one of the people besieged inside the Church of Nativity in 2002, then deported to Gaza. Our sufferings take different forms, but all of them result from one thing – Israel.”
Afterward, I learned that Mr. Fahmi is the spokesman for the people deported from the Church of Nativity. Having a shared passion for a just cause, Mr. Fahmi and I get along well. He always brings his kids with him to the protest for detainees. I’ve gotten to know him as a person, not merely as a political activist. I believe that children are reflections of their parents. In Mr. Fahmi’s case, his children are outstanding reflections. I always tell him, “If I ever have a child, I’d like to raise her or him the same way you did.” I see a bright future for Palestine through his kids who are, despite their young ages, very well-educated about Palestinian issues.
On the second day of Eid al-Adha last year, I saw him with all his kids in the weekly protest for detainees outside the International Committee of the Red Cross. When I asked him how his family in Bethlehem was doing, he replied, “I was on the phone with Dad this morning, greeting him for Eid. He is getting older. He fears that his death will be soon as he suffers from some health problems. My heart aches when he tells me that he wishes he could see his grandchildren before he dies.” I asked his 11-year-old son Nasr whether he was enjoying his Eid or not. He replied with a sad look on his face, “I feel like it is the same as any other day. All our relatives are in Bethlehem, and Eid without family is tasteless.” His words touched me very deeply.
When I shared with Mr. Fahmi what his son told me, he answered, “My kids were raised without their grandparents or relatives around. The times I was questioned about them are countless, especially during our traditional and religious feasts. But thankfully, they are smart enough to understand that this is one of the prices that Palestinian people pay for being merely Palestinian. And they are proud!”
Yesterday, Mr. Fahmi made a moving speech that showed the humanitarian aspect of a deported Palestinian’s suffering. “The hardest times in a deported person’s life are the times of need,” he said. “Today, we should remember Abdullah Dahoud, one of the 39 deported from the Church of Nativity. Sadly, he could not be among us today. He died of sorrow over his mother and sister, who passed away without him seeing them for one last time. When he was once asked about his fondest wish, he said, ‘I wish I could read a verse of Qura’n next to my mother’s grave.’”
Palestinians consider the United Nations a partner of the Israeli Occupation because of its silence. Security Council Resolution 607 “[c]alls upon Israel to refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilians from the occupied territories” and “[s]trongly requests Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by its obligation arising from the Convention.” But when it comes to reality, the UN chooses to take no action against Israel’s violations. We, the Palestinian people, don’t want resolutions, we want actions! We want real justice, not just words tossed into the air!
Unlike Monday, Tuesday was a happy day. On Monday, I woke up with eyes full of tears after I fell asleep to a tragic story, a story that was not heard widely, but happened in Gaza. Three kids lit up a candle to escape the darkness that filled their house in Al-Bureej Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip and slept. As the candle burned out, the candle of their lives was extinguished, too.
When I was a very young girl, I used to climb the window and stretch my arm out, trying to collect some rain in my small hand, then sip it, believing that it was the purest ever. I remembered this as I was listening to the raindrops hitting my room’s windows, which I made sure were securely closed, to keep the cold wind from blowing inside and disturbing the warmth my body felt under my heavy blankets.
Meanwhile, I could hear mum talking quietly from the room just next door, but couldn’t recognize exactly what she was saying. She suddenly paused and called me to join her and seize the chance to pray, as in Islam it’s said that prayers are more likely to come true while rain is falling. I closed my eyes as tight as I could and listened to her sincere prayers for us to accomplish all that we dream, for all sick and injured people to recover soon, for all dead to reach heaven, and for Palestine, from the sea to the river, to be free. As I could only hear mum’s voice along with the raindrops, a harmonic atmosphere spread around me, and my lips moved in silence, “Amen”.
Being a Muslim, I never celebrated Christmas myself, but having lots of Christian friends inside and outside Palestine has connected me to this day. I’ve always shared it with them one way or another, since I believe that religion shouldn’t stand as a barrier between human beings. Religion is to call for love, compassion, and tolerance. It should unite people, not divide them. Sadly, not all that is said is done. Three years ago, people around the world welcomed Christmas and the New Year happily with lights, colorful balloons and fireworks while Gaza received it with white phosphorous lighting the dark sky and rivers of bloods spilled by the Israeli Occupation Forces.
Even though I am Muslim, I’ve always appreciated the beauty of Christmas trees, lights, gatherings, meals and religious songs that I see Christians perform in the Christmas movies I watched. On this rainy and windy day, which I knew was Christmas, I wished that Gaza’s sky would snow so that it would be a typical Christmas day like movies made me picture. For an observer like me, snow adds a factor of beauty to Christmas celebrations, even though my Christians friends abroad would sometimes complain about it. I don’t blame them, though, as I have never seen any snow and never experienced its negative side.
I spent this Christmas Eve with Lydia and Joe, two of our Christian friends who came to Gaza in solidarity with Palestine, and in support of Palestinian people who live under the Israeli Occupation. My family and I didn’t hesitate to bring Christmas gifts and share this special day with them, as a form of appreciation for their indescribable humanity as they chose to celebrate it in the besieged Gaza Strip rather than joining their families on such a holy occasion.
Approximately three thousand people among Gaza’s population are Christians. Recently, I made new friends among them, a Christian family that I met through a funny coincidence. A couple of months ago, I was walking with my Greek friend Mack, who came to Gaza as a solidarity activist, and we passed a dress shop named Kopella. The name attracted Mack’s eyes, as it happened to be a Greek word for a young lady. He dragged me inside the shop, which we learned was owned by a Christian family named Alsalfiti. He was very curious to know if they knew what the word means, and it turned that they have a daughter studying in Greece, who chose this name for their shop.
Around a week ago, I visited the Al-Salfiti family with Joe and Lydia, who were interested to know how Christians in Gaza celebrate Christmas. The first thing my eyes glimpsed was a beautifully decorated plastic tree that was placed in the corner of their house to welcome Christmas. “I brought this from Bethlehem five years ago,” Lili, the mother, told me while pointing at the tree after she noticed my surprise.
“We used to get permits from the Israeli Occupation to Bethlehem every Christmas, to celebrate it in the Church of Nativity with our relatives who live there,” Abu Wade’ the father, said. “But that can no longer happen. After Shalit was captured by the resistance, people from 16 to 35 weren’t allowed to go. So my kids haven’t been able to join us in Bethlehem for more than five years. Many people are denied permission for the reasons of security, but no one knows what the security reasons are. For example, my wife and I applied a little while ago. She got permission, but I didn’t.”
Lili interrupted with a frustrated voice, saying, “Only a range of three to five hundred Christians get permission.”
Abu Wade’ raised his voice: “Remember, no Muslim is allowed by the Israeli Occupation to pray in Al Aqsa, either on their religious holidays or any other days.”
While talking about Bethlehem, I recalled precious memories stuck in mind since I was nine years old, just before the Second Intifada started. Mum struggled to get permission from the Israeli Occupation to take me and my two elder siblings on a trip to the West Bank. She eventually did, and so we went. I recall the few hours I had inside the Church of Nativity, and how strongly spiritual it felt to be where the Christ was born. I remember how my eyes were captured by the beauty of the place and its architecture that is enriched with history. Once I recalled these memories with Mum, and she laughed at me, remembering how surprised I was to see people crying very hard. When I asked her about it innocently, she replied, “Christians cry while praying out of reverence, just like Muslims do.”
It is very painful to think of how close I am to the West Bank, but how far the Israeli Occupation makes it seem at the same time. If I were to ask Santa Claus for something that would come true, I would wish that I could step on every grain of sand in our historical Palestine, freely visit Jerusalem to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque and enjoy the smell of its air and its charming, mountainous nature, and visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. There are many beautiful, breathtaking scenes that I would love to draw as I see them in reality. I have faith that I will someday, once Palestine is free.
The day before the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday is the day of Arafa. It is said that a believer who fasts on this day expiates the past year’s sins and the sins of the coming year. As it is considered to be a day of forgiveness from sin, many Palestinians fasted on that day. Despite me fasting, I eagerly accepted the offer of my friend, a solidarity activist from Holland, to have a walk in Jabalia Camp. Approximately 108,000 registered refugees live in the camp, which covers an area of only 1.4 square kilometres.
I passed by the Jabalia market, which was so crowded that one has to keep pushing people out of his way in order for him to pass through. With every step forward I could glimpse many faces of different ages, genders and features. I could see children jumping around from one stand of clothes to another, excited to pick their new outfits. At the same time, other children seized the opportunity of this unusually large crowd. They were carrying heavy boxes containing simple goods, trying to earn some money so that they could help their poor families have sort of happy atmosphere, to at least buy some candies.
I could see faces full of anger because of the high prices of goods, which result from the siege which has been illegally imposed since 2007. Parents would spend hours going around to every stand, searching for the cheapest clothing to buy for their children, who still innocently think that Eid means having new clothes. Yesterday, I could see how the inhabitants of Jabalia Camp, who are mostly refugees, face obstacles like low income, shortages of goods, and high prices for the available ones. They are desperate for happiness, even if it’s always missing something: the feeling of freedom, security and independence.
As Gaza welcomed Eid al-Adha, hymns played as the sun dawned. I could hear children and men gathering around the microphone in the mosque right behind our house, singing continuously and happily in one voice, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar …” I couldn’t help but wake up earlier than I always do, and more energetic than ever, excited for what would come next.
My mother said that the door has been knocked on constantly since the early morning by people with Eid greetings. Some of them could afford to buy sacrificed animals, “Uḍhiyyah,” and hand out a slice of meat.
Eid is a very special religious holiday, as it reconnects people with each other, strengthens social life, and reminds the rich of people who are in need. In Palestine, Eid exceeds its conventional frame. It’s a festival of tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, and thoughts of the people who are missed in prison, in Diaspora, or in the grave. My father and his brothers, for example, visit the families of martyrs and prisoners in the neighborhood.
On the second day of Eid, there was a demonstration in solidarity with our detainees at the Red Cross headquarters to convey that their spirits live among us, and that they are never forgotten. We also meant to show sympathy with the mothers who waited many long years, hoping for their sons’ freedom, who passed away before they could celebrate their release.
It was a day of support for our heroes inside the merciless Israeli bars, encouraging them to stay steadfast, as well as a day of compassion for their families, who have passed through several important holidays with one, or in some cases more than one missing, making their happiness incomplete, to help them stay strong and optimistic.
While celebrating Eid, I felt blessed for having all the people I care about around me. At the same time, I felt like I couldn’t enjoy my happiness at its fullest while thousands of people in Palestine couldn’t feel this blessing.
How can Palestinians fully enjoy our happiness while these heartbreaking stories are so very common in their daily lives? I hope next year the happiness of Eid and other occasions will be complete, with the Israeli jails emptied and Palestine independent and free. Insha’Allah, God willing.
To read it in French, press this link (Thanks to the webmaster, Claude)
I am in favor of ending the policy of oppression and the dictatorship of tyrants who spread the corruption in the land. I am also in favor of the right of self-determination of peoples and the attainment of freedom and democracy for which they have always dreamed. However, I am against the way Al-Gaddafi was killed; shooting him from a very close distance in the center of his head and dragging his body and his allies’. This method is not a model for those people as they have longed to be against the regime of Al-Gaddafi and his behavior and as soon as they had the opportunity, they were the first to apply his rules against him in revenge. It would have been preferable that they prove to eyewitness and TV channels that they are the generation of democracy and human rights, but sadly they let us down. They should have highlighted the difference between the bloody fate of the tyrants and the violence they practiced and the honored fate of the representatives of democracy.
The photo of Al-Gaddafi killed at the hands of rebels doesn’t evoke optimism to the spirit that Libya’s future will be better, or that its people will practice what they called for and revolted against. Despite all of this, they still have plenty of time to prove to the whole world that they are the true rebels, not just blind imitators to what has happened in neighboring Arab countries. They have to achieve positive results to kill the pessimism inside us.
I am sitting so close to my mother, expecting anything to happen any time. I hate to listen to the radio but I have to. The Radio announcer keeps repeating the same sentence again and again “People, try to take as much caution as possible!” What a silly call! Who knows where is or is not a safe place in Gaza during war time? All I want right now is to see my family members around me. I keep moving my eyes over and around them. They are totally silent but features of worry and fear are easy to make out on their faces. “It sounds like another war” mum said. I just looked and listened in silence, and continued pressing the keyboard buttons. I feel cold like never before. I feel so much in need of a blanket or a sweater but two things stops me from that; my legs and my lips. I can’t break my silence as well as my stiffened state. Nothing but my fingers are moving.
I laughed at myself as I remembered how I bolted down in a flash from the second floor to the first floor where my family stays. Fear takes over, pushes you further. Subconscious strength drove my legs to gather with the others—the safest place I can be. Suddenly, I stopped writing. I couldn’t see anything around me, all colors are unclear. A series of flashbacks from the last war on Gaza that were buried somewhere in my absent memory have reemerged. The sound of war planes is getting louder. The sirens of ambulances are still ringing. I wish I can move and bring some cotton to close my ears. This is the only time when I envy the deaf. “7 children are injured!” the announcer said. I felt as if somebody had thrown freezing water over my face so strongly that it sounded like a slap, though I remained unmoved and unconscious to it.
I went into a very deep sleep out of my control. Silence was spread everywhere. It was as if I was choking in my dreams, there was smoke so thick and stifling. I wasn’t sure if it was real or merely a dream. Suddenly I started coughing, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t open my eyes, I still hadn’t realized what had just happened. Then I tried to pull myself together. I checked if I was ok; I was quite ok. I still couldn’t see, I couldn’t feel my body. Suddenly my hand touched something and then I screamed. Oh God, that was Ahmad, my four-year-old son, on my lap bleeding. I screamed with the loudest voice I could, “Please, help, please rescue my son.” He was bleeding a lot but nobody answered. People around were either dead or unconscious.
“Oh my other seven kids, where are they?” I said. I put Ahmad on the floor and went to search for them. I could barely see for the smoke. I found Ansam, my 2-week-old girl, she was crying with a throttled voice struggling to get out of her throat. I held her to my chest and continued searching for the other six who were not so far away. I was almost epileptic, crying, lots of bodies on the floor. Then I saw four of my sons in the corner looking silently and fearfully at one boy and girl lying face down on the floor. I stood for a while shocked in such fear that the sensations going through me were true, but then I thought that I should move quickly. Slowly and carefully I turned their bodies to the back. Yes, my feeling was right, that was my 8-year-old girl, Amal, and my 7-year-old son, Abdallah.
Amal was bleeding from her nose, ear, and head. She had some shrapnel in her head. The boy was bleeding from his thigh. I couldn’t bear it. I impulsively hugged my children and burst into tears. I didn’t know what to do. Then I went to bring my son Ahmad who was bleeding on my lap, I could see many dead bodies were under the rubble. I gathered my children around me; I was delirious but struggling to be strong for my kids. Ahmad was bleeding so much, and he seemed like he was dying. It wasn’t to be long afterwards that he would die in my arms. Amal and after that Abdallah opened their eyes, they were so scared of death. I hugged them and promised them that they wouldn’t die, I kept telling them to be patient. The ambulances will come soon, “Why are there no ambulances until now!” I screamed.
I wasn’t really conscious of what had happened. I asked myself “where is Abu-Mahmood, My husband?” Then I remembered exactly what had happened and a flashback sent the horror back through my head. Israeli soldiers executed my husband in front of us when he went out of the house putting his hands up just as one of the soldiers outside had ordered him to. The soldier had said, “the owner of the house must come out now!” He went out with his ID in one raised hand and his old Israeli driving license in the other. Then they killed him. And after that kids started shouting and crying begging the soldiers not to kill them, but they came inside and shot towards the kids randomly. It was then that Ahmad was injured in his chest, dying two days later despite struggling for life as the ambulances were not allowed to enter the area by the soldiers until the fourth day.
After that around 100 people from the same family including me and my kids gathered in a house which Israeli soldiers had forced us to enter. Once they’d herded us together like farm animals, the Zionist soldiers with no conscience and ice cold to the lives, love and history of our families inside, bombed the house that my kids and I were sheltering in with everyone else. It took only half an hour, but they were 30 minutes of indescribable hell with unending sorrow thereafter. Anyway, now I know why I had begun this deep, uncontrollable sleep.
Take a walk along one of Gaza’s streets. Gaze into the eyes of its people. Try to guess what they are dreaming about. Gaza is a place full of dreamers, but too often it’s also a grave for their dreams.
As I walk in the street, I see an old man sitting by the entrance of his door looking at the movement of the sun in the sky. From the expression of his face, I imagine that he is thinking he might be dead by the next day without having another chance to see his own land—now in the land called Israel and “forbidden territory”. I see fathers seeking to earn some money to take care of their children. I see mothers carrying their babies, looking at them in sorrow, wondering whether it would have been better not to bring them to this vile world!
I see many Palestinian youth with lost futures. Some may think it is funny how enormous the number of youths is who are crowded into the cafés smoking shisha. However, it’s not surprising. There are many graduates among them who have lost hope of finding a job. Others got frustrated of getting work in the profession in which they have trained, so they are laboring as mechanics, builders or they applied for the government to work as policemen—places where they shouldn’t be!
Many 18-year-old youth work hard to earn good grades in high school so they can qualify for a scholarship for advanced education outside of Gaza, only to find the border closed to them crashing their dreams. It’s as if there is a sign at the reading, “NO, WE WON’T LET YOUR DREAMS TAKE YOU FAR AWAY.” No wonder that so many youth lose their motivation to better themselves. the siege is surrounding them in addition to many others who got their degrees and sitting hopeless, jobless, and useless. No progress, no ambition, no country.
As I walk in the Gaza streets, I see many children with bare feet, dirty clothes and pale faces carrying sweets and chasing cars to beg taxi drivers and passengers to buy some! I look at them with anger, blaming the circumstances that have led them to this early heavy responsibility. What has forced those children to working while they should be at school?! I wonder if there are similar scenes in the streets of Israel. Many questions preoccupy my mind but I still get no answers; the international community is still speechless and does nothing!
I see many fatherless children shouldering many responsibilities, too early when they should be playing games and enjoying their childhood like other children around the world! Mahmood Al-Samouni is the eldest son in his family. At the beginning of 2009, while many people were celebrating the New Year, he was crying so terribly because since that moment he must accept to continue living with his father and his youngest brother absent in his life and just keep wishing that he would see them each night in his dreams! I accompany Adie Mormech, an English activist, to help teach him and others of Al-Samouni family—which lost 30 members in the Israeli invasion. We hope that they will someday be able to make their voice heard by learning English. I heard Mahmood once say that “I want to grow older more quickly so I can handle some of the responsibilities that mum takes.” Can anyone imagine how hard it is for an 13-year-old child to wish for the wheels of life to move faster so he can replace his father and be the man of the family?
You might find it strange that children here are not really children. Gazan children become mature at very early age. Children here wait for Eid so that they can collect money from relatives to buy a fake gun, so they can play a game called “Arabs and Israelis.” I remember when I played this game with my neighbors in the evenings. It’s funny that we had a rule that “the one who plays the Israeli soldiers should die.” However, we realized that the roles were inverted in reality, the soldiers don’t die but kill.
As I walk in the Gaza’s street, I see a mountain of sad scenes; which can only be banished once Palestine is free. But, I will never give up hope that I will someday walk in the Gaza streets and look in the people’s eyes, seeing them shining from happiness, not glistening with tears.
The unsettled political situation, and the “crisis of borders,” the permission we must seek for every step we take– causes much stress among Palestinians. But despite our daily struggle, we always know how to create our smiles even though the smile in Palestine is hard to get. Therefore, we stick with everything that can help us find this pleasure.
Ask any Palestinian about his or her favorite place in Gaza, and the answer will likely be “the beach”. The sea is very special for Gaza citizens. It symbolizes escape– the only route possible to run away from reality and thus the only place where we can feel truly alive and free.
However, Huda Ghalia’s family discovered in the summer of 2006 that even the beach can be a dangerous place. This family went there to enjoy swimming and to ponder the beauty of nature. They never expected that their lives would end there, but they were the heroes of a disastrous tragedy. While sitting peacefully on a Gaza beach, an Israeli artillery shell exploded nearby.
Only Huda was the survivor of nine of her family members that day. She ran to her murdered father, shaking him and screaming “dad, wake up!” Without reason, they were killed. Huda’s family had no link with any militants nor had they shot rockets at Israel. Their only guilt was a desire of a little happiness. What excuse can explain what happened to them? Is Israel judged for that? The “international community” does nothing and Israeli crimes will never stop!
After that black day, Palestinians started fearing even the sea. They stopped going to their only escape from life for a long time. My own family stayed away from the beach that entire summer just like all other families.
However, we didn’t give up. Today, Gaza citizens continue to go to the sea even more than before. Every time I go to the beach with my family I find it more and more crowded, and it brings joy to my hearts. Nothing is more beautiful than seeing children flying kites and parents swimming with their children and throwing a ball to each other. It is the liveliest place in Gaza, especially in summer, and it will continue to be like this forever, in spite of the ongoing Israeli violence.
It hurts when I see the people I love bleeding tears. The only thing that comforts me is the fact, that we are Palestinians. Being a Palestinian means that we have strength in spite of injustice, hope in spite of the misery, and smiles in spite of pains.
Escaping from final exams pressure, I went to a wedding with my sisters. Everyone around me was smiling, clapping and dancing for the bride and the groom except for me. My smile turned into tears.
I incidentally met an old friend, from whom I had not heard anything since the ninth grade. We had been in the same class until I moved to another school. I was so happy to see her after five years. However, her situation made me feel sad.
As I greeted her, I noticed an innocent, cute child playing in front of us. “This girl is my daughter.” My friend said with a smile. “Are you joking?” I gasped. “You are only 18 years old!” I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was a mother of a two-year-old girl! I tried to pull myself together in order not to show how surprised I was. “When was your wedding? Are you happy?” I asked.
“Thank God, I am bringing up my daughter alone,” she said. I kept silent but I am sure my face’s features showed my astonishment. Many thoughts filled my brain. I was thinking if she had broken up with her husband, or if had he left her alone and travelled. I waited for her to continue because really I couldn’t speak then expecting bad news. Suddenly, she got out her wallet and showed me her husband’s picture. “Isn’t he handsome? He is not alive anymore; he was martyred,” she said proudly.
It took me quite long time to understand that she is a widow at such a young age. I didn’t say a word. I felt helpless because I was sure that her sorrow was too deep. Yet, she hid that behind the smile of pride. “How was he martyred?” I asked.
“Two years ago,” she answered with shining eyes, I felt the tears were trying to fell from her eyes but not a tear in sight. “He was in Biet_Hanoon, visiting a friend, when suddenly a rocket shelled an empty area close to him and he was one of the victims. Israel justified this with a trivial excuse as usual, seeing that the empty area is the place where resistance groups trained.”
Just looking at her red eyes following her daughter was killing me. I was bewildered. What was his fault to die in the age of twenty-three after a week of his daughter’s birth? And what is her guilt to deserve being a widow leading hers and her life alone with her daughter? I believe that it’s their destiny, but it’s really a hard one to accept. However, she had. She buried her sorrow and for her daughter, played both the role of mother and father.
I realized that the miserable Palestinian life has some good aspects. It creates iron people able to lead their lives no matter how tough the going gets. That’s why now; I am not surprised that I met my friend at a wedding. Israel has to know that we are strong enough to handle anything no matter how hard it is. In Palestine, Life goes on despite the sorrow.