A disturbing trend of suicides is taking place amongst young people in the world’s largest open-air prison, the Gaza Strip due to a suffocating military and economic blockade. In less than 24 hours, 3 men in their early 20s, Ayman Al-Ghoul, Sulaiman Al-Ajjouri and Ibrahim Yasin took their lives. Meanwhile, an 18-year-old girl has attempted to take her life by swallowing huge amount of pills but survived.
I follow these local news in Gaza with great worry over the lives and potential of these people who symbolise the future of our homeland but whose horizons is extremely limited against a backdrop of a brutal process of dehumanisation that goes back to 1948 Nakba when a forth of dispossessed Palestinians sought refuge in the Gaza Strip and their hopes to return has been consistently repressed by Israel.
I especially worry over my youngest brother Mohammed (24) who’s raising a beautiful baby with his wife Asma amid extreme life precarities. Despite being very skilled, he’s jobless, and survives by whatever job opportunity that comes his way, even if it’s underpaid. He had many days when in one day he worked as a barber and a salesman at some retail shop, and an electrician. But most days, there are no jobs, forcing him to be dependent on my mum’s nurse salary which helps the family survive while my father is retired and his only source of income which he gets as a long-serving former political prisoner in Israeli jails, is cut amid financial crisis facing the Palestinian Authority. The sad thing is that my family is doing better than the majority of families for whom a loaf of bread is a struggle.
These suicides are signalling hopelessness due to accumulative violence coming from all directions that left them nothing to hold onto. And while all are undergoing ongoing trauma under siege and military attacks, mental health support is considered luxury, and is not available for the overwhelming majority.
In 2012, when the UN warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020, they undermined the dehumanising reality that haunted the population for decades of oppression under Israeli apartheid. According to a recent report by the UN, 3,601 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and over 100,000 injured during the past decade across the occupied Palestinian territories. Of these, 87 % were killed in Gaza, mostly during the 2012 and 2014 Israeli onslaughts on Gaza, as well as in the Great March of Return demonstrations that started in 2018 to call for ending the siege on Gaza and implementing the right of return to refugees who comprise 71% of Gaza population. Alongside these inconceivable numbers of lives lost and bodies sentenced to life-long disabilities, over 100,000 people were internally displaced as a result of Israel’s repeated bombardment of Gaza or what Israeli officials call, “mowing the lawn.” Only yesterday, Israel bombed several agricultural lands across the Gaza Strip.
The majority of those killed, maimed and displaced are young. Besides, poverty is sweeping the inhabitants of Gaza with unemploylment rates reaching over 50% while much higher amongst young people. 70% of youth under 30 are unemployed, and for women it is almost 90%. A total of 26,500 people in Gaza lost their jobs in the first three months of 2020. Moreover, 80% of private sector employees earn less than minimum wage, according to Gisha who stressed that the unemployment rate “does not even reflect the full extent of the poverty rampant in the Strip”. Meanwhile, even before Coronavirus pandemic has struck the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of an epidemic as 97% of water in Gaza in unfit for human consumption.
I worry as I know the immense violence that Palestinians endure, the multigenerational trauma they carry, and the real pressures they navigate around to survive the life of punishment they are born into, for simply being Palestinians. Collective punishment is a war crime according to the 4th Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory. Despite that, Israel continues to act with impunity committing daily war crimes in the occupied terrorises, undermining human rights conventions and International Law. This is happening as the world watches Israel consolidating its system of apartheid across historic Palestine, sentencing Palestinians to a gradual genocide as part of their settler-colonial racist strategies that fights the very existence of the Palestinians on their lands.
When everyday is a struggle for survival, when life smells like death, when even their peaceful protests are turned into bloodshed, the world left them nothing to claim their humanity. Their souls will be haunting Israeli apartheid, its allies that bomb economic and military support into their killing machine of the Palestinians, and everyone who stayed silent while Gaza is suffocating.
End the siege on Gaza. Stop arming Israel. Sanction Israeli apartheid! Free Palestine!
Palestinians like me, living outside our country, fear that the coronavirus pandemic could be the latest nightmare to befall our loved ones back home. As of now there are more than 12,000 confirmed cases in Israel, around 350 in the occupied West Bank and 13 in Gaza, my home.
Having grown up in Jabaliya refugee camp, I know that the types of prevention measures imposed in Europe or the United States cannot be applied in Gaza. “Overcrowding and a lack of living space characterize Jabaliya camp,” as the UN notes. “Shelters are built in close vicinity and there is a general lack of recreational and social space.” Big multi-generational families live under one roof. Houses are separated by shared walls or narrow alleys. Residents are within earshot of their neighbors’ conversations and privy to their daily routines. Social or physical distancing is next to impossible.
There are 114,000 people living in Jabaliya refugee camp, but a similar situation can be found across Gaza, where 70 percent of the population are refugees.
In total, two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, under a tight Israeli blockade for 13 years. Half the population are children. Living conditions are already dire, after three major Israeli military assaults since 2008, along with the impact of the siege. Basic infrastructure and services, including electricity, education and healthcare are already far from adequate.
In 2018, the UN specifically warned of the risk of an epidemic in Gaza due to the degraded sanitation system, and the fact that 97 percent of the water supply is unfit for human consumption. Health experts and human rights organizations are now sounding the alarm that a major outbreak of COVID-19 would be catastrophic, and have called on Israel to lift its restrictions on bringing vital supplies into the territory.
The current crisis offers states and corporations, driven by the desire to accumulate power at the best of times, a unique opportunity to expand and consolidate their control.
Citing the coronavirus emergency, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized the deployment of surveillance technology normally used for “counterterrorism.”
For Palestinians, the pandemic is not a temporary emergency but represents continuity. The occupying power has imposed a never-ending situation of emergency that dates back to 1948, when the creation of Israel uprooted 800,000 native Palestinians from their homes. During the Nakba, our grandparents assumed they would return in a couple of weeks. Today, we observe the birth of a fourth or fifth generation in refugee camps.
Moreover, the use of electronic surveillance by Israel to spy on and blackmail Palestinians is nothing new. What is new here is the use of technologies tested on Palestinians against the privileged Israeli Jewish population who were previously largely shielded from such intrusion.
And while the pandemic is a boon for companies and states seeking to expand their power, it is in the short term a blessing in disguise for Netanyahu. Until a few weeks ago, he was counting his last days as prime minister and facing imminent trial on corruption charges. But for him, the pandemic could not be more timely: a state of emergency which he can manipulate and use to maintain power.
While all focus is on the pandemic, attention is diverted from Israel’s continued military repression of Palestinians. In March alone, Israel detained more than 350 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Gaza, including 48 children and four women. Meanwhile, prisons where Israel holds some 5,000 Palestinian political detainees, are – like prisons around the world – turning into hotspots for coronavirus. Israeli jailers and at least one released Palestinian are among confirmed cases. At least four other Palestinians were potentially exposed to the virus during interrogation by an Israeli prison worker. This has pushed detainees and their advocates to call for urgent international action to save them from Israel’s systematic policy of medical neglect in its prisons.
It is clear that the “emergency response” to the new coronavirus does not mean a suspension of Israel’s systems of oppression.
In the midst of the crisis, it is hard to think ahead. There’s no doubt that many measures being applied are necessary to save lives, as perhaps a third of the world’s population is under some form of lockdown. But decisions made in these extraordinary times could permanently shape the post-pandemic reality.
Education has gone virtual. Only essential workers are permitted to go to work, while others work remotely and untold millions have lost their jobs. In addition to expanding surveillance via mobile phone, drones are being used to monitor streets and ordinary people are acting as informants against those they suspect of breaking the rules.
When the health emergency is over, will all this become the new normal?
Wartime metaphors are in vogue. President Donald Trump has appointed generals to prominent roles in the US government’s response to what he calls an “invisible enemy.”
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has declared that his country is “at war,” while Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, has asserted that “we must act like any wartime government.”
Maybe this language helps alert people to the severity of the threat, but such comparisons sound horrible to survivors of actual wars – including wars that these very leaders have supported or fueled.
Although many countries and companies make fortunes from the business of war, war is ugly. It destroys life and human relations. The laws and conventions that people are used to in peacetime do not apply in war zones. This pandemic is nothing like a war.
During a recent Skype call with dispersed family members in Gaza and Europe, we all joyfully watched as my youngest sister, Tamam, a refugee in Brussels, rushed to her balcony to join her neighbors applauding the efforts of health workers.
This triggered traumatic memories of us huddled together in our home in Gaza, with other families who had escaped neighborhoods under heavy Israeli fire. We sat around a battery powered radio in a blackout, the floor shaking beneath our feet, listening to explosions, houses collapsing and people dying.
Then, we were scared to even look out of the window.
Our family has been shaped by such memories, including my mother giving birth to me during a military curfew on Jabaliya camp. If you broke an Israeli curfew, you risked your life, not just a mere fine.
A chance to reflect
This pandemic is a chance for reflection for people born in safe places, who are used to taking their rights for granted.
Even under lockdown, many still have access to healthcare, housing, education and freedoms that others facing the same pandemic do not.
COVID-19 exploits and exacerbates existing inequalities, globally and within societies.
In the United States, for example, Black and Latino people are getting sick and dying in far higher proportions than white Americans.
The virus provides an opportunity to question and challenge power structures such as capitalism, colonialism and imperialism, which produce this uneven vulnerability. While some commentators have asserted that the coronavirus is a great equalizer, this is clearly not the case.
My family in Palestine hopes that this pandemic reminds people of how connected we all are. We should learn from others who have suffered with life’s uncertainties for as long as they remember because of man-made inequalities that make some people visible as others are rendered invisible.
We should be united for each other’s welfare, not warfare. We should learn from Cuba’s model of solidarity, as it sends doctors to coronavirus-hit countries, while the US tightens sanctions and pressures countries to reject Cuba’s aid.
The virus is teaching us that we can be asymptomatic but deadly to each other, especially the vulnerable. And we are learning that as long as the virus exists anywhere, no part of the world is truly safe.
In short, caring for and helping each other is not just a value to aspire to, but a necessity for our collective survival.
During a #StopArmingIsrael protest during a week of action against DSEI arms fair in September 2017. Photo by David Dinis Photography
My name is Shahd Abusalama and I’m a 3rdgeneration Palestinian refugee, born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp, northern Gaza. I’m standing here with so many Palestinians, born in Palestine and exile, to tell the founding Zionists of Israel who assumed that the old will die and the young will forget, that we will not forget Palestine, and we will never surrender our fundamental rights to exist, resist and return. We stand representative of many indigenous communities who faced various forms of oppression across the history of European colonialism and imperialism, to remind the world that settler colonialism is not a culture of the past, but a current reality that we have lived and defied from America, Australia and Ireland to Palestine.
My grandmother described a peaceful childhood in green fields of citrus and olive trees in our village Beit-Jirja. This life, the tastes, the sounds and the smells remained fixated only in her memories as Beit Jirja was dismantled alongside other 530 villages and towns that were depopulated and destroyed by Zionist thugs in 1948. For Palestinians, the Nakba was never a one-off event that happened in 1948. Israeli colonial oppression has never stopped and many Palestinian communities within Israel, including the people of Khan Al-Ahmar, are still fighting against their ethnic cleansing as we stand here.
My grandparents are present today more than ever as we mark the 71stanniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, for what happened then is why I was born in Jabalia with a gun pointed at my head. During my mother’s labour, Israeli soldiers disrupted her way to Jabalia UNRWA Clinic as they forced a curfew that indoctrinated to shoot any moving being. Shooting to kill was common in the 1st Intifada when I came to life, and is a common practice now.
We saw it in the shooting and maiming of Gaza’s Great Return March protestors who stood with their bare chests against Israeli snipers to claim their humanity and to bring their right of return, an issue that Israel firmly rejected across the past 7 decades on racist grounds, to the centre of political debate. Their cries for justice come amidst US-Israeli attempts to push the right of return and Jerusalem “off the table”. It is time that we call those world leaders what they are: racist trolls. It is time to stand firm in our support of the Palestinian right of return, as without justice, there will be no meaningful peace.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip just survived another a 3-day deadly Israeli attack last weekend, which claimed 25 lives, including two pregnant women, two toddlers and a 12 year old child. While world news was quick to move on after the truce was announced, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip returned to a daily struggle for survival while more deadly violence is expected at any moment. That’s how my family welcomed Ramadan. Following the truce, I heard my parents calling relatives and friends and saying, “glad you survived” before continuing “Ramadan Kareem”.
Imagine living in an open-air prison where there is constant presence of death, and fear of walls falling inwards. This fear of being uncertain about anything, including your own life, even while in your home, is terrifying. This is what 2 million people faced last weekend as they are besieged by Israeli weaponry from air, land and sea, turning Gaza into a laboratory for its lethal arms, which Israel markets as ‘battle-tested’ in notorious arms fairs around the world, such as DSEI which London is hosting again this year.
It is not a coincidence that Gaza comes under attack during Israeli elections over and over again. Those elections are led by criminals using Palestinian children’s blood to win popular support. Meanwhile, the world is about to celebrate Eurovision in Israeli Apartheid on top of an ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land, a show whose whole purpose is to expose Israel’s ‘prettier face’ while deflecting global attention from its daily crimes against the Palestinians. Shame on all contestant countries, all the participants and audiences if they still support Eurovision in Israel while our victims’ blood haven’t dried.
This is nothing new. This is our decades-long lived experience that is normalised by a dominant media discourse that finds it comfortable to avoid addressing the power imbalance between the occupier and the occupied, to remove the context of settler colonialism and reduce it to conflict, effectively demonizing Palestinians and their legitimate struggle against their systematic dehumanization. Our injustice is also normalized by tax payers whose money is paid as military ‘aid’ for Israel, by politicians who suddenly fall short on words of condemnation once the perpetrator is Israel, by international institutions doing buisness with Israel or corporations that enable Israeli crimes, by Muslims of the world who normalise relations with Israel and buy Israeli dates merged with our pains of loss and dispossession, by Zionist Jews and Christians who support the uninterrupted process of ethnic cleansing against the native people of the ‘promised land’ in the name of God.
The best response to such brutality and normalisation is active solidarity!
We have a beautiful demonstration of solidarity today with thousands uniting from different races, religions, genders, professions and cities, to say: we’re not turning our back to the Palestinian people. We know too well that whether Palestine on news headlines or not, Israel is perpetrating violence uninterruptedly.
Every minute, innocent souls are buried, and building that took a lifetime to build are flattened. It is urgent that people of conscience all over the world join in solidarity and resist the collusion of their governments and institutions in this long-standing crime against humanity.
Why bomb Said al-Mishal Cultural Centre? Like many in Gaza, I remain in shock. My tongue cannot find the right words to mourn this erasure of our memories and culture, and my tears cannot take away the heaviness of my heart. It is a living nightmare I share with lots of Palestinian youth in Gaza for whom this centre was not merely a building.
Al-Mishal was one of the very few places in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas on earth, which provided us with an escape from the suffocation we endure. Some of my most vivid memories are attached to this place. I recall my frequent gatherings with my friends and family there for a performance or a play and other cultural activities. I recall the times when I performed Dabke at its stage and jumped happily like a free bird as I saw the audience so engaged; smiling, singing along, clapping and struggling to remain seated. I remember the walks we had from there to the beach for a bite or a drink as we watched the sunset.
It was flattened to the ground. The horrific sound of this airstrike still echoes in my head and the pictures of its destruction keep me up at night.
It seized to be in a matter of pressing a button by Israeli Occupation Forces, and with this button, they took our precious memories. They stripped us of one of the very few windows of happiness and relief, which filled our hearts as we met to make culture, to celebrate our culture, to sing, dance Dabke, and laugh. Against all odds, this space existed, but apparently posed a ‘threat’ to Israel that had to be eliminated. The only reason for the destruction of such a building is to make our lives more unliveable.
Gaza’s Said al-Mishal was more than a venue to produce and celebrate Palestinian culture. It was a necessary means of survival for 75% of Gaza’s population who are children and youth; they are isolated in their densely-populated enclave, under a miserable reality, lacking basic human rights and spaces for fun, for creativity, for resistance though art.
Said al-Mishal Cultural Centre is perhaps a very good representation of the Palestinian struggle; produced under extraordinary circumstances, desperate for expression, visibility and recognition but ultimately silenced.
Gaza’s familiar landscape has been undergoing a process of distortion and erasure. In 2014 attack on Gaza, whole neighbourhoods were erased. Buildings that were like landmarks for us, where we used to pass by and meet with friends, were turned to rubble in the phase of a few years. It is nightmare to imagine returning to the place where I spent my childhood and early adulthood after five years of forced absence, and being unable to recognise it, thanks to the terror of mass destruction that Israel inflected on it. Can you imagine not being able to relate any more to your familiar landscapes due to a machine of genocide and destruction? It’s traumatic. What’s more traumatic is that we know that Said al-Mishal Theatre was not the first cultural institution to be targeted and will not be the last unless an international intervention is made.
This crime cannot be seen outside the systematic erasure and elimination of Palestinian existence, history and culture that is happening since 1948 Nakba, when Israeli apartheid was founded. Then, alongside the destruction of Historic Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Zionist militias robbed thousands of books, paintings, musical recordings, and other artefacts from Palestinian homes, libraries, and government offices. This was repeated many times, including in 1982, when the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) archive was robbed in the Israeli siege of Beirut. In the wake of the 1982 looting, the PLO research centre director Dr. Sabry Jiryes spoke to New York Times, noting that Israeli troops took away its entire library of 25,000 volumes in Arabic, English and Hebrew, a printing press, microfilms, manuscripts and archives, smashed filing cabinets, desks and other furniture and stole telephones, heating equipment and electric fans.” ”More seriously,” he added, ”they have plundered our Palestinian cultural heritage.” He estimated the material losses at $1.5 million, but instated that what “we have lost are invaluable and possibly irreplaceable.”
All above examples are part of a deliberate Israeli colonial policy that seeks to erase Palestine from historical memory and erase all traces to the indigenous people, their history and cultural identity. This elimination makes it easier to claim a make-believe reality where “Palestinians do not exist,” as Israeli PM Golda Meire once bluntly said in 1969, or that they are a punch of primitive tribes with no culture.
Even if they erase all our traces to Palestine, our bodies will continue to carry the traumatic evidence of these constant Zionist crimes. If they erase our physical cultural heritage, they will not manage to erase our memory. We will remain the living evidence that challenges Israel’s historical myths and angelic self-image, which Israel tries to paint of itself.
Palestinian kids playing on the rubble of Al-Mishal Culture and Arts Theatre following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on 9 August. Photo by Ahmad Abu Awad
From the emergency room in Lewisham Hospital in London on Wednesday evening, I called my parents to inform them of a sudden allergic reaction I had to something that remains unknown.
I wanted to hear their voices which never fail to comfort me in exile whenever I experience moments of uncertainty – even though I know that they experience an extreme level of uncertainty at their end, in Gaza.
At that moment, around 11pm Palestine time, my parents would usually be asleep, but I called anyway, and to my surprise, my mom Halima answered quickly. She sounded troubled as she offered a list of instructions to avoid such allergic reactions.
The radio was playing in the background and my dad would interrupt the conversation, and both sounded distracted. Something was wrong.
“Bombings are everywhere. May God protect us and have mercy upon us. If you were here, you would have thought it was the beginning of another full-scale attack,” my mom said.
“The sky lights up and then a massive bombardment is heard, and within seconds another one, and another one, shaking the ground underneath us. The walls feel like they’re falling down.”
My parents just celebrated the arrival of their first grandchild. They called her Eliya, one of Jerusalem’s ancient names. Ever since, she’s been the focus of our conversations.
“Eliya, bless her, is crying non-stop as if she senses the danger. We can hear her screams from here as your brother Muhammad and Asma [his wife] are trying to comfort her,” my mom said in distressed tones. “We are panicking ourselves. Imagine how kids are feeling this terror.”
The anti-allergy injection given to me in the ambulance was making me drowsy, but the impact of her words made me switch back on.
This experience seemed to sum up the parallel realities I’ve lived since since I left Gaza.
Growing up in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, uncertainty defined everyday life. Death is always present, even as you do your most mundane activity in your most secure place.
And yet we learned to face our worst fears and continue to live without internalizing this horror as if it were normal.
That is why resistance was a necessity in the face of this life of uncertainty and dehumanization.
Gaza is only a part of a much larger system of violence, displacement and confinement designed by Israel, and funded and normalized by the so-called international community.
The reality in Gaza is the product of settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, sadistic militarism, supremacist ideologies and moral hypocrisy. It is a showcase of not only Israel’s inhumanity, but that of the world as a whole.
Ever since I was old enough to understand the injustices that surrounded me as a child, I woke up every day questioning how despite its enchantment with human rights slogans, the world allowed this situation to continue.
Thursday morning, I called my family as soon as I woke up. My brother and his wife had a sleepless night with their 2-week old daughter.
My mom, who just got home from work, was eager to have a nap after a restless night. She works as a nurse in Beach refugee camp, at a children’s clinic run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees.
But instead she sat on the tiles by the garden door to let her body soak in the coolness, as the lack of electricity in Gaza, except for a few hours per day, means that the air conditioners my family had installed cannot be used.
As she sat there, she told me stories of the mothers who came to the clinic.
“Several women told me that they had a sleepless night with their children crying out of fear,” my mom recalled. “They were clinging to them.”
Others said their children, including older ones, wet their beds.
“May God help them,” my mom said shaking her head. “I raised you all in extraordinary situations, and I worry Eliya is going to grow up in similar conditions, if not worse.”
I was looking at my mom on the phone with one eye, the other glancing at London’s modern skyline from the 11th floor apartment of a friend that looked out on a city and world that seemed entirely undisturbed by what is happening in Palestine.
Our conversation was interrupted by a troubled silence that indicated there was more to be said.
I perfectly understood her without a word being spoken, however. I remember how we barely expressed our emotions as individuals when we were all in the same boat, experiencing the same violence.
We had no choice but to be strong for each other, and support one another to keep moving forward.
Then my mother spoke about how most families in Gaza had lost a loved one, or had someone suffer a permanent disability due to successive Israeli attacks. Amid the catastrophic humanitarian and economic situation caused by Israel’s siege, people are exhausted.
“Our situation is heaven in comparison to other families who are completely dependent on UN aid and do not have even one member with a regular income,” my mom observed.
My mother sounded agonized as she spoke about the overwhelming situation and reflected that the challenges of wartime seem almost bearable compared with the grinding aftermath.
“Precisely!” I said, in an effort to bring some hope into the conversation. “What makes people go to protest near the fence with Israel is that they have nothing to lose but a life of misery.”
“Confronting and throwing stones at Israeli snipers lined up behind the fence is a means of survival to escape this cycle of powerlessness,” I said. I told my mother I thought it was an act of defiance and dignity.
At least 120 Palestinians have been killed during the Great March of Return protests that began on 30 March, more than 20 of them children.
“If only the world outside knew how we experience life. If only they put themselves in our shoes for a second,” I added.
“The times when we lived under physical military occupation were much better,” my mom said, interrupting me. She was referring to the years from 1967 until 2005, when Israel maintained soldiers and settlers deep inside the Gaza Strip, instead of besieging it from the perimeter.
I was confused and asked her to explain.
“We had confrontations then, similar to what we have experienced at the Great March of Return, but from even closer,” she said. “They would use their military power on us but we would have a brief window to express resistance, which was somehow consoling.”
“We would stand in their faces without any fear, despite our knowledge that they would eventually do what they are indoctrinated to do – imposing roadblocks, curfews, house raids and detention campaigns,” my mother explained. “We would stand tall in front of them as they attempted to kidnap your father, or one of your uncles, scream at them and curse them, eye to eye.”
“The Tamimis were every family in Gaza, during the first intifada,” she said, referring to the West Bank family of the teenager Ahed Tamimi, renowned for its role in the village of Nabi Saleh’s unarmed resistanceto Israeli occupation and colonization.
“I remember when the army broke into our house in the middle of the night, soon after your birth, looking for your father. They turned everything upside down and stole your father’s pictures and notebooks,” my mom said. “We did not stand still as they ruined everything. We resisted. We pushed them and threw our belongings which they had broken back at them.”
“But now they just drop missiles at us from their warplanes, gunboats or tanks as we sit in our homes unable to confront them.”
Whenever I talk anyone in my family, they say nothing much has changed, as if time has forgotten about their corner of world.
But time did not forget them completely. They experience time differently: through an innovative form of military occupation which has turned Gaza into a caged laboratory for lethal technologies to be sold later to other countries as “battle tested.”
They experience the progress of time as a regression, with resistance – not accepting their abnormal situation as normal – the only way to break free.
A screenshot of the Guardian coverage of Friday’s Great Return March, where Israel killed 15 Palestinians.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of South Africa’s most prominent anti-apartheid activists, once said. The Guardian is not even pretending to be ‘neutral’. My analysis highlights the problems within the Guardian‘s coverage, exposes its bias towards Israel, and its serious implications.
The article above lays justifications for Israel and presents Palestinians’ casualties with suspicion. It reads as if written by an Israeli propagandist desperately trying to reduce legitimate resistance to colonial oppression as a ‘Hamas ploy’ in an attempt to whitewash Israeli crimes.
Dubbing Palestinian popular resistance as ‘Hamas ploy’, as described by Israeli officials and repeated widely amongst western media, strips Palestinians of their agency, and downplays the Israeli-imposed dehumanising situation we are subjected to. These demonstrations saw no equivalence in Gaza for a while, whether in terms of public engagement magnitude or generational and gender diversity. All united behind the flag of Palestine.
Slamming Friday’s protests as a ‘Hamas ploy’ is not an exceptional practice. It serves the demonisation of Palestinian resistance, an ideological weapon designed to keep Israel immune of criticism. Israel’s ‘self-defence’ rhetoric, which is predicated on the strategy of blaming the victim and demonising their resistance, serves to deflect attention from the slaughter of Palestinians by Israel.
Land Day’s popular resistance is not coming out of the blue. History teaches us that whenever there was oppression, there was resistance. Palestinians exercised their right to resist, guaranteed by International Law.
Resistance as a natural to colonial power
Various Zionist leaders acknowledged resistance as a natural reaction to colonial power. In 1956, Israeli army Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan noted in his eulogy at the funeral of an Israeli security officer ambushed by Fedayeen (“freedom fighters”) from Gaza:
“Let us not today fling accusations at the murderers. What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred for us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza while before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived. We should demand his blood not from the Arabs but from ourselves.”
Even the godfather of the rightist Likud Party mostly in power since 1977, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, conceded in 1923: “Every indigenous people… will resist an alien settler.” Thus, he concluded, “a voluntary agreement (with Arabs) is just not possible”, and “the sole way to such an agreement is through the iron wall”, his metaphor for force or military might. Israeli politics of subjugation against Palestinians have largely followed the iron-wall instructions since, up to and including Israel’s lethal force against Land Day protestors.
Protecting Israel’s image and legitimacy
The Guardian article is problematic in several ways. Take this photo, for example. So many heartbreaking and inspiring pictures came from Gaza protests, reflecting a dynamic multigenerational mixed-gendered protestors. Their choice came in line with a longstanding colonialist representation of Palestinians as dangerous, irrational and violent, and Gaza being “a combat zone” or “enemy entity“. How about a picture from the viewpoint of Israeli snipers shooting live bullets at thousands of defenceless protestors facing one of the world’s mightiest armies with their bodies? That would endanger Israel’s public image however, and would probably put the UK government in an impasse to justify its support of Israel, including its arms trade with Israel which might have led to the killing of 15 Palestinians on Friday and the wounding of hundreds.
The title is another story. Let alone putting the Israeli official line as a sub-title, thus validating it. “Palestinians say”? Can it be more passive and suspicious? Why attribute the report, not the truth? “Palestinians say” presents those facts with suspicion. And why avoid mentioning the perpetrator of these killings? That happened before the eyes of the whole world, and the IDF admitted it. It’s all documented and people saw it happening online through live streaming! What if it was the other way around? Would the Guardian or the BBC dare to frame “Israeli officials say 15 Israelis were killed” as a title? And without mentioning the perpetrator and slamming them as terrorists?
The problematic aspects of this coverage doesn’t stop here. “The protests coincided with the start of the Jewish Passover, when Israel security forces are normally on high alert,” the Guardian reported. These religious connotations are just wrong. As I said in my article published earlier, Land Day is one of the most significant days in Palestinians’ political history. Adding religious connotations distorts the deeply political context behind these protests. Land Day is purely about our inalienable political rights. The right to freedom, justice, equality and return which have been denied since 1917, when Britain, as the colonial power in Palestine, sold its indigenous people’s right to self-determination to the Zionist settler-colonial project in a notorious letter known as the Balfour Declaration.
Complicit in Israeli crimes
Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations called Israeli use of ‘lethal force’ against Palestinian protests a crime. B’Tselem from Israel warned against framing demonstration areas as “combat zones” and against the use of “shoot-to-kill” policy at demonstrators. On Friday evening, B’Tselem stated,
“Armed soldiers and unarmed demonstrators are not “at war.” The illegal open fire regulations and the compliance with them are the reason for the number of dead and injured today in the Gaza Strip.”
Such coverage ignores all these troubling details, including the fact that it is a clear case of injustice defined by an occupier against occupied, NOT equal sides. The Guardian used the word ‘clashes’, which presumes a tit-for-tat between two equal sides, to describe armed soldiers against thousands protesting with bare chests, four times. This is called word laundering, a technique commonly used by Israeli political leaders, news editors, and most mainstream Western media to downplay Israeli crimes and avoid harming Israel’s image.
Serving as a platform to justify Israel’s iron-wall policies against Palestinians, instead of exposing them, makes the Guardian, BBC and other Western media complicit in this slaughter and maintaining this cycle of violence against Palestinians.
My 15-year old cousin Muhammad Abu Loz just got injured by gunfire from Israeli occupation forces at the Great March of Return, east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.
He was among thousands of Palestinians from all generations who have joined these marches in commemoration of Land Day, protesting against the longstanding Israeli colonial occupation and the denial of our inalienable political rights. Israel met them with 100 military snipers.
My cousin survived, but my grandfather’s neighbor, Muhammad Kamal al-Najjar, 25, was shot dead. He is one of at least 12 people who had been killed by Friday evening.
Four decades later, Land Day remains one of the most significant dates in the Palestinian political calendar – a day commemorated by popular resistance to ongoing Israeli colonial oppression, land theft and systematic policies of erasure.
In Gaza, Land Day demonstrations are held near the Israeli-imposed buffer zone, a strip of land inside the Gaza boundary that eats up 30 percent of the small territory’s farmland.
This buffer zone only tightens the Israeli chokehold over Gaza’s two million residents who are besieged by the Israeli military from land, sea and air.
From the north and east, Gaza is surrounded by Israeli artillery, tanks, snipers and military checkpoints. From the sea it is blockaded by Israeli warships that constantly fire on Gaza’s fishers, and from the south, the Egyptian military collaborates with Israel to maintain the closure of the Rafah crossing, the only lifeline to the outside world for most people in Gaza.
Sick with worry as I followed the day’s events from a distance, I called my mom in Gaza. I knew she had been looking forward to this evening’s celebration of her nephew Abed’s wedding, with drums banging as people joyfully sing and dance dabke.
My mom sounded overwhelmed over the phone. When I asked if the wedding was still on, she said yes.
“But given our neighbor’s devastating loss and your cousin’s injury, the zaffa [the celebratory procession] is canceled and the wedding songs will be substituted with revolution songs celebrating freedom fighters,” she said.
My parents, like other Palestinians, anticipated Israel’s violence today, but for them Israeli violence is constant, so carrying on with the wedding is not as strange as it might sound. It’s a way to show that life goes on. Our daily lives are defined by paradoxes like this.
They also went to the place of protest in eastern Jabaliya yesterday to help set up the “return tents”, a recreation of 1948 Nakba Palestinian refugees’ tents which will remain rooted there until 15 May – Nakba Day – to call for our long-denied right of return to the lands from which we were expelled by Israel in 1948.
That right that remains at the core of our anti-colonial struggle.
This morning, they went to my grandfather’s house, where the wedding lunch was set to take place, not knowing that it would turn into a funeral.
Far from home
Our short conversation left me feeling further detached from my current place of residence in the UK, where the majority of people are spending Good Friday with their families in safety and happiness.
But in Palestine, Good Friday was stained with bloodshed and brutal violence, thanks to Israel.
There is no justification for Israel to open fire against protesters posing no threat whatsoever.
There is no justification for suppressing people whose right to resist colonial oppression is guaranteed by international law. The fact that Israel has been able to continue this brutal violence against Palestinians with total impunity for 70 years reflects a deep-seated moral problem in our world.
My thoughts and feelings on his killing are complex and cannot fully be expressed in words.
Abu Thurayya was actually one of four people killed by Israel on the same day. All were protesting against Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Yet because both of his legs had previously been amputated, the local and international media paid more attention to Abu Thurayya’s story than they do to the experiences of most Palestinian victims.
Many articles on his killing highlighted how Abu Thurraya posed no threat to the Israeli military to argue for his victimhood.
Palestinians killed by Israel usually don’t pose any real threat to that state’s heavily armed forces. Yet the question about whether he posed a threat shouldn’t even arise.
The very question ignores the power dynamics between a soldier serving an occupying power and civilians who have spent their entire lives under occupation. Asking a question about whether a Palestinian poses a threat is a subtle way of putting the blame on the victims.
I have no wish to tell a story of a 29-year-old whose disability did not make him immune to Israel’s lethal weapons. We have lost so many people that our wounds have never healed. Another killing deepens the pain felt in our open wounds.
I know too well the level of dehumanization to which Israel subjects us.
Israel and its supporters openly describe us as a “demographic threat.” Our history and identity, indeed our very existence as a people threaten to destroy all the myths that Israel has propagated in its desperate search for “international legitimacy.”
I know too well that being a Palestinian is enough reason for Israel to kill us.
Why should the specific tragedy of Ibrahim Abu Thurayya suddenly awaken people to Israel’s brutality against Palestinians? There are thousands of other striking examples – children being killed, beaten up (sometimes in front of cameras) and terrorized in Israeli jails – that only received a fraction of the attention being paid in this case.
It troubles me that we seem to have more sympathy for Abu Thurayya than we do for other victims.
Abu Thurayya had to have both his legs amputated after being attacked by Israel in April 2008.
Would we have felt less sympathy for Abu Thurayya if he had been killed in that attack? If so, why? It would have been the same victim, the same family devastated by losing a loved one.
Ibrahim Abu Thurayya was much more than a man who lost both his legs. He emphasized that much himself.
Abu Thurayya kept on working after he was attacked. He washed cars for a living and once said: “Please never look at my disabled body. Look at the great job I am doing.”
Losing his legs, he added, was “not the end of the world and life should go on.”
Abu Thurayya refused to be imprisoned by his disability. He also tried to live as freely as he could within the open-air prison of Gaza.
With his positive attitude, he provided an extraordinary example of dignity and resistance.
Since April 2008, Abu Thurayya had been featured in many news stories. He said a similar thing in each of them: “I challenge my disability, I challenge Israel as well.”
In his own way, Abu Thurayya had won a victory over Israel’s attempts to dehumanize Palestinians.
His story would require a book to do it justice – it is a story that must be placed within the collective Palestinian experience of Israeli colonialism. Yet there are some key components of that story which we must not forget.
He was born a third-generation refugee in Gaza’s Beach refugee camp. As a teenager, he worked as a fisherman. Every day he would venture out in a humble boat in waters patrolled by the Israeli Navy – a force that often uses brutal methods to prevent Gaza’s fishermen from plying their trade.
Abu Thurayya was just 20 when he had to have his legs amputated. He continued defying Israel until the end.
The final instance of his defiance came last Friday. Abu Thurayya stood in Gaza’s soil on the stumps of his amputated legs. He was waving a Palestinian flag, when an Israeli soldier on the other side of the fence fired at him, piercing his head with a bullet.
Abu Thurayya reminds me of Nadia, a character in Letter from Gaza, a short story which Ghassan Kanafaniwrote in 1956.
Nadia was aged 13 when she lost a leg when Israel carried out massacres in Gaza that year. She had been wounded while trying to shield her siblings from Israel’s bombs.
In that story, Kanafani implores that a friend living in California return to Gaza so that he can “learn from Nadia’s leg, amputated from the top of the thigh, what life is and what existence is worth.”
Shortly before he was killed, Ibrahim Abu Thurayya was filmed, saying: “This is our land and we will not give up.”
We can all learn about life from his story. That is why it must be shared, taught and remembered.
Stranded at the Rafah border crossing, Gaza. Picture shot on 29/09/2013
A clip on AJ+ titled, “Save the Children says Gaza has become unlivable for its one million children,” triggered a troubling anger in me. Sounds familiar? A UN report published in 2005 warned that the Gaza Strip could become “unliveable” by 2020.
As a person born and raised in Gaza’s open-air prison until just before Israel’s deadliest attack in summer 2014, this statement evokes numerous traumatic flashbacks. It makes me wonder: Has Gaza ever been liveable since Israel came to existence?
I cannot help but be furious at how the world continues to be blind to the fact that Gaza has already been unliveable for not only a year, or a decade, but for several decades. The disastrous humanitarian circumstances that this enclave has endured do not go back to when Israel officially designated Gaza as a ‘hostile entity’, legitimating the collective punishment of its population. It goes back to when Israel was created and the consequent influx of displaced Palestinians that were crammed into Gaza.
My grandparents were among those dispersed and dispossessed. Right now it just feels too painful to even think of how they coped with the experience of being uprooted from their evergreen villages. Yes, since even then, Gaza has been unliveable. Israeli missiles don’t have to be falling over civilians’ rooftops, killing innocents, for life there to ‘become’ unliveable.
It’s been almost 4 years since I left Gaza, and my memories remain very vivid, despite some memories I wish I could forget forever. I wish I didn’t have to draw examples from them.
A few months before Israel launched its most recent massacre in summer 2014, I remember being so depressed at times that I questioned whether my life was worth living. But I should have only questioned the humanity of the international community and imperial powers that endorsed our dehumanisation. Although I always compared myself with others who were in worse situations in order to be thankful for what I had, my life was unliveable. I remember being upset for missing the graduation ceremony, to which my classmates and I were looking forward, so we could celebrate surviving four years of our BA degree together. To comfort myself, I kept reminding myself of my privilege to have ‘luckily’ received a full scholarship to further my higher education, a dream that we all shared.
But this ‘privilege’ has an enormous toll on me, physically and mentally. Some of its costs accompany me still. For weeks, I persistently tried to cross the Rafah border while focused on my goals, in order to feed my hope and determination. For weeks, I woke up before anybody in the house did. My attempts to cross the border failed so often that I gave up on saying goodbye, and I couldn’t handle the sorrow in my parents’ eyes from having seen me in that situation – trapped, scared and distressed. For weeks, I shared this journey of humiliation with thousands of stranded people, including patients dying, students, children, elderly, and women, all desperately and miserably waiting for their nightmare at the Rafah border to come to an end. I eventually made it out without saying goodbye.
That was neither human nor liveable.
Numerous aspects of life there were unbearable. They still are. Whenever I talk to my family, we rarely engage in a serious conversation. We spend the little time we have – as long as there is power, thus internet – teasing each other and making jokes that usually revolve around electricity. Their humor itself is a coping mechanism that hides immense sorrow and unshed tears. However, being their daughter that knows them so well, I feel the sorrow in their eyes and voices and the topics they choose to share with me – I even feel it in their exaggerated pride of me. They believe that our separation and dispersion is a price for our success, and therefore any symbolic success is overly celebrated among the extended family and even on social media to cope with the trauma of our forced absence. I do feel a heartache when I think of them and of how they’re coping in these increasingly suffocating circumstances. I do feel a stab when I look back and count the years that I had to do without their physical presence in my life. No family should ever live with being forcefully dispersed.
None of this is liveable.
If we are enduring this brutal reality, it is because we love life. We are desperate for an ordinary life, and for that end we have coped somehow with the extraordinary and inhumane situations which surround us. For us, that is a form of resistance, as the other option was succumbing to despair. But our resistance to despair does not make our reality livable.
It’s been forever unliveable. We have expressed our pain and recounted the brutality that we endured before the eyes of the whole world. We voiced our desperation in so many ways, ranging from testimonies, to art and documentary, to armed-struggle against our occupying power, Israel, which has the mightiest military in the world. It doesn’t need an expert or the UN or Save the Children or an international body to testify that Gaza ‘has become unliveable’ or ‘might become uninhabitable by 2020’.
Gaza has been unliveable as a direct result of Israel’s existence, and the whole world has to be accountable for this ongoing dehumanizing cycle of violence that is endorsed by treating Israel as a normal state, which effectively means sentencing Palestinians to eternal misery.
International boycott of Israel is the way forward.
My father -on the right- and I at Gaza beach in the summer on 2013, my last summer in Gaza.
One of my jacket’s buttons fell off today. You might be wondering: “So what? What’s the big deal?” This is not the story. I know people experience their buttons falling off of their clothes the whole time. But for me, this incident opened up a hidden wound that I’ve been struggling to cope with for the past three and a half years.
If I were at home, in Gaza, this button would never fall. You know why? Whenever I bought a new jacket or a shirt with nice buttons on it, my dad would take them and re-sew the buttons tightly, so that there is no chance that I would lose any of them. My dad would do this for all my family members. Given his awareness of my quite extreme clumsiness, he would put extra care in my clothes.
Three years and a half have passed since I saw any of my parents, my heroes. Three years and I’m still counting. This counting hurts, especially considering that Israel and its neighbouring ally Egypt are collaborating to tighten the stranglehold over Gaza, making the reunion with my parents an uncertain issue. My story is one among the thousands of Palestinian families who have been left dispersed due to this brutal siege on Gaza and the ghettoization of the remainder of Palestinian lands by the Israeli colonial occupation.
Skype is now my crouch that I lean on to ease the pain, but Skype doesn’t allow me to touch their skin, or contemplate the new wrinkles that appear on their faces. It stands in the way of feeling the full extent of their unconditional love which I live on its memory to recharge myself. It doesn’t allow me to show how much I love them, in return.
My heart jumps when I think of my parents, or when I see or do anything that reminds me of them. I terribly miss their physical presence around me. Despite the distance and the years that have passed away from them, I see them with my eyes closed, and I strongly feel their presence. I think of them for tranquillity, for peace.
My parent, my heroes, my life without you is exile. You will always remain my home. A reunion is bound to come.
A Facebook page set up by protest organizers stated that “by accepting the ambassador’s visit, Valerie Amos and SOAS as an institution are complicit in … ongoing colonialism.”
A coalition of student societies issued a statement condemning the meeting, saying they considered it “a flagrant violation of the principles of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which the SOAS Students’ Union overwhelmingly voted to support in the largest student referendum ever held at SOAS last year.”
The groups demanded an explanation, and for Amos “to apologize for meeting with Mark Regev … and to accept our invitation to work together on applying the result of the democratic BDS referendum to the university.”
In an emailed response to the student union, Amos said: “I met the Israeli ambassador to follow up on a letter I had sent him about the detention and treatment of a SOAS research student at Ben Gurion airport.” She added that she saw this “as an important part of my responsibility as director.”
But Zeid Shuaib, a Palestinian student at SOAS told The Electronic Intifada that “this visit has a political message. This is an attempt to undermine BDS, and specifically the SOAS community’s relentless support for BDS.”
An Israeli journalist on a visit to the London embassy recently reported on the “war room”-style map which details “the main campuses, the deployment of pro-Israel activists and the location of the ‘enemy forces.’”
It seems likely SOAS students are considered among such “enemy forces.”
But the coalition of student groups protesting the Regev meeting charged the administration with disregarding the result.
“The student societies that supported the BDS referendum have made effort after effort to engage management to ensure that the governance of the university is kept democratic and have only been met with intimidation and aggression,” the groups said.
While Regev was the Israeli prime minister’s chief spokesperson, he relentlessly justified Israel’s wars to the world’s media, including in the UK.
Whether it was the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, or its repeated “mowing the lawn” massacres in Gaza, Regev was there to excuse Israel’s killing of civilians.
SOAS student Roba Salibi said, “we will continue to mobilize and put pressure on the management to turn our BDS referendum result into actions, and ensure that such an offensive and outrageous act does not happen again.”
The PA’s deputy minister of foreign affairs Taysir Jaradat said that embassy staff found Zayed lying in the garden covered in blood, the Ma’an News Agency reported.
Ahmed, another brother of Zayed, told Ma’an that the killers “threw him out of the embassy’s balcony, killing him.”
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reportedly ordered an investigation into Zayed’s death. Issa Qaraqe, the PA’s prisoners affairs chief, accused the Israeli spy agency Mossad of killing Zayed.
Zayed escaped from Israeli detention 25 years ago and had lived in Bulgaria for more than two decades. In December, Israel demanded he be extradited, so he sought shelter at the embassy.
“Omar’s blood will not be wasted in vain,” his brother Hamza said, adding that those responsible for Zayed’s assassination “must pay the price.”
But the family insists that Israel is not the only one to blame.
Zayed was being “threatened by some individuals at the embassy – especially the ambassador – who demanded him to leave the embassy,” his brother Ahmed told Ma’an. Ahmed also accused security guards present at the embassy of “collaborating” with his brother’s assassination.
Zayed’s brother Hamza told Al-Hadaf that Palestinian Authority ambassador Ahmad al-Madbouh said to Zayed that they would kill him by poisoning his food and that a plane would be waiting to return him to Israel.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine accused the Mossad of murdering Zayed but also blamed “the Bulgarian government and security forces who pursued Comrade Nayef Zayed for arrest and imprisonment for over three months.”
The Marxist group said the PA was responsible “for failing to protect Comrade Nayef Zayed from assassination,” even as “the highest officials of the Palestinian Authority met with the highest officials of the Bulgarian state in Ramallah, with no apparent demands made for our pursued comrade.”
It was reported in the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz that Zayed perhaps “fell from a high floor.” The Israeli foreign ministry said that “although Israel had asked for his extradition, it learned of his death in the media and is currently studying the information.”
Zayed had been given a life sentence by an Israeli military court for his alleged involvement in the killing of an Israeli settler, for which he was arrested in 1986.
Zayed launched a hunger strike in 1990. While being treated in a Bethlehem hospital, he escaped Israeli custody and fled the country.
Zayed reached Bulgaria in 1994, after moving around the Middle East in secret. His wife Rania and their three children are Bulgarian citizens.
On 15 December, the Israeli embassy in Bulgaria officially requested his extradition. He was given 72 hours to turn himself in, but Zayed refused.
Embassies enjoy protection under the 1961 Vienna convention, and Bulgaria recognized Palestine as a state in 1988.
History of kidnapping and assassination
Israel has long targeted Palestinians all over the world. The scholar, resistance activist and novelist Ghassan Kanafani was assassinated by an Israeli car bomb in Lebanon in 1972.
Dirar Abu Sisi, the deputy engineer of the only power plant in the Gaza Strip, was kidnapped by the Mossad while on an overnight train from Kharkiv to Kiev in February 2011.
He was handcuffed and tortured, forced into a coffin and deported by a plane to Israel where he is now held captive.
My martyred uncle Mohammed Abu-Louz and his 2-year-old son
I can almost hear my dad’s voice breaking in tears echoing in my ears when I called him on August 13th 2014 following the murder of our neighbour Hazem Abu-Murad who grew up next door to our home and was like a son for my Dad and his best companion whenever he sat at the front door of our home. Along with five others, Hazem was killed while trying to diffuse an unexploded 500-kilogram Israeli missile in Beit-Lahya. I can still recall the unspeakable shock that my family suffered on the first day of Al-Fitir Eid over the loss of my uncle Mohammed Abu-Louz who was killed leaving behind a very young widow with a 2-year old son and 3-year-old daughter who were too young to comprehend what was going around them and were dressed with new Eid clothes and constantly asking when their father would be back to give them candies and gifts.
I can almost hear my mum’s shaky voice on the phone saying whenever I called, “We’re okay, thank God. Don’t worry.” Continuous bombing rumbled in the background, almost every second. Sometimes, right after I heard the terrifying sounds of explosions, the call disconnected. That would drive me mad as dark thoughts, all about death, destruction and loss, filled my mind. I would try endlessly to call back as panic overcame me. Only when I heard their voices again could I calm down and breathe, or at least sigh as attempts to keep myself together failed. During those traumatizing times, sleep was the last thing on my mind. If I slept, I dozed unintentionally on my computer or my sofa. But I woke from these accidental naps terrified, almost out of breath, thinking that anything could have happened while I slept. I would run to call my family, and could only relax once someone answered the phone. I would break into tears that were a mixture of conflicting emotions: fear, trauma and happiness. Their voices on the phone indicated they were still alive, or not dead yet.
These fears filled me for 51 days and nights, but intensified more as the war grew crazier, more brutal, then beyond brutal. My days and nights merged so I no longer kept track of time. It became meaningless. Food lost its taste. Even rest, though I was exhausted, became undesirable. I spent 51 days in isolation, sitting in front of my computer and phone, watching Al-Mayadeen coverage, and at the same time listening to Palestinian radio channels like Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa and Al-Sha’b online. To keep my sanity, I wrote on social media, sometimes filling my sketchbook with black and white, or marching through Istanbul’s streets with a group of Palestinians to express our anger. We chanted as loudly as we could for justice and holding Israel accountable for its crimes, for stopping the attack on Gaza and the bloodshed. Looking outside my window in Istanbul used to feel like a slap in the face as I saw typical, ordinary days, as if nothing was happening in Palestine and no one was dying almost every moment.
At times, I felt that even though I was privileged to study outside the Gaza ghetto, where the lives of everyone, regardless of age of gender, were threatened by the Zionist murder machine, it was harder to bear than the times I was there, experiencing attacks first hand. But I think that was because I had been there when death was everywhere and bombings surrounded us. I knew what it was like, and that was what made me go mad. We had survived many attacks, but that did not mean we would survive all of them.
The last Gaza massacre was beyond brutal. The Israeli occupation crossed all red lines with its immoral and inhumane measures. Neighborhoods were completely destroyed. Families were wiped out, with not even one member surviving to pass on the stories and ambitions of those who were murdered. But the international mainstream media had reduced this devastating cost that the Palestinian people endured into numbers in its headlines or even between the lines.
A year has passed since the ceasefire was declared after 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, died in front of the whole world as Western powers parroted their commitment to Israel’s right to self-defense. Meanwhile the death toll rose higher and higher. Self-defense against whom? Numbers themselves tell the whole story clearly. 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, a third children, were killed in Gaza, and more than 100,000 buildings totally destroyed, while 73 Israelis, nearly all soldiers, died. This is an occupation against the occupied, not equal armies fighting a ‘conflict.’ Ours are people calling for their legitimate rights, rejecting brutal living conditions that resemble a slow death sentence under a suffocating siege, and resisting oppression that has lasted 67 years by a colonial power that treats them as less than human and continues to deny their most basic rights while attacking their very existence, identity, culture and history.
A year has passed and the piles of rubble remain as cruel reminders of all our people endured during the 51-day onslaught, its devastating aftermath and how little progress has been made since then. Reconstruction has barely begun. Thousands still live in makeshift shelters, leading a life of uncertainty and struggling daily for survival. I am sure every Palestinian, especially those from Gaza, is still traumatized. What we survived during the summer of 2014 will take a lifetime to heal. It will always remain like a scar on our psyche until justice for the victims who died is achieved, and the freedom for which we paid this huge price is gained, until Israel is held accountable, denaturalized and treated for what it is in reality: a settler-colonial state.
But not only Israel is responsible for what our people have endured. It is a responsibility shared by the whole international community, who give Israel a green light to cross all red lines. Israel’s impunity is fortified by a world that not only watches silently, but is proactive in its unconditional support for Israel’s crimes. International solidarity with Palestine has to move beyond mere sentiment to serious political actions that fight the policies of governments who support Israel and all it does.
Do not allow your governments to continue their support of Israel in your name! Have your say! Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a tactic that is growing all over the world and effectively threatening Israel. Empower it more wherever you are and help spread the voice of justice. And always remember that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
A local magazine’s picture features my grandmother Tamam shouting at an Israeli soldiers during a curfew imposed on Jabalia Refugee Camp during the first Intifada
Edward Said once eloquently wrote,
To be sure, no single Palestinian can be said to feel what most other Palestinians feel: ours has been too various and scattered a fate for that sort of correspondence. But there is no doubt that we do in fact form a community, if at heart a community built on suffering and exile.
This shared state of suffering and exile has started since 1948 when the Zionist state of Israel waged its so-called War of Independence, which Palestinians call al-Nakba. Then, the series of Palestinian tragedies of uprootedness, dispossession and state of permanent temporality of the exile began; more than 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their villages and currently number more than six million Palestinians dispersed within the Occupied Territories and in exile, mostly in the neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
As Palestinians are commemorating the 67th of Nakba, my grandmother, whose no longer present in my life, feels more present in my thoughts and closer to my heart than any other day. As children, my grandmother brought up my siblings and me while my parents went to work. The more I became aware of the challenging life she led, the more I admired her. She was truly a fighter. The picture above was shot during the first Intifada when Jabalia Refugee Camp was under curfew and no one was allowed to enter the camp. This picture was printed on the front page of Al-Ayyam, a local magazine with a caption reading “Palestinian women arguing with an Israeli soldier at the entrance of the camp”. Armless as she stood without any fear, shouting powerfully at an armed-to-teeth Israeli soldier who ironically seem scared of her. She was filled with anger for being prohibited to enter and go to her home where my grandfather was dying. Dad saved the picture in spite of my grandmother’s rejection. She was frightened of this picture as she thought, “the Israeli occupation can do anything. A picture can make you a convict”.
My generation, the third-generation refugees, was deeply blueprinted with the traumatic events of the Nakba, which for Palestinians, is not only a tragic historical event that resides in the past, only to be commemorated once a year with events that include demonstrations, clashes with the Israeli forces, art exhibits and national festivals among other things. The memories of the old days in our green villages were our day and night stories that we were brought up hearing, our lullabies that always put us to sleep. I am no exception.
Since Nakba, my grandmother led a life of exile, which Edward Said described as, “the unbearable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home”. It always felt to me that she was incomplete, torn in between her physical place Jabalia Refugee Camp, and the place that she was dispossessed and exiled from Beit-Jerja. Nevertheless, my grandmother embraced the dream to return to Beit-Jerja until the last day of her life. She made sure her grandchildren memorize the stories she always repeated of the old days without any boredom as if stressing, “Never forget!”
“It was never one Nakba,” my grandmother used to say asserting that it was never a one-off event that happened in 1948. The Nakba is experienced instead as the uninterrupted process of Israeli settler-colonialism and domination that was given continuity by the 1967 occupation, and which every aspect of daily Palestinian life is affected by. Growing up hearing our grandmothers recount the life they had before, the dispossessed lands that most would never see again, has formed the collective memory of the Palestinian people. My grandmother described a peaceful life in green fields of citrus and olive trees, the tastes, the sounds, the smells that remained only in her memories in our village Beit-Jirja which was violently emptied of its inhabitants and razed to the ground in 1948 like hundreds of other villages. My grandmother, then, was a pregnant mother with a 2-year-old boy when she lived the trauma of the Nakba, a fact that made her deliver her second child before time as she was in panic making her way to northern Gaza.
At the beginning, she thought it would be a matter of few weeks and in no time, she would return and harvest the crops of olives, grapes and citrus fruits that they left behind. But they never did, or – to keep the hope alive – let’s say they didn’t return yet. Though illiterate, she understood the aim behind the United Nations’ ‘humanitarian’ work, which, she argued, wasn’t to ‘solve’ the problem of the displaced people back them, but to sentence them to a life-long refugee status. She could foresee that the aids that the UN provided were part of a systematic process aimed at making Palestinian refugees forget about their political rights and strip them from their past, a deliberate process that seeks to get them locked in the moment waiting to receive some help or charity to survive.
Similarly, the Palestinian intellectual Jabra I. Jabra, who was born in the same year as my grandmother in 1920, reflected on his memories of Nakba and in a very bitter language he wrote, “the dislodged population was to be deliberately called ‘refugees’” and that “the horrific political and human issue would be twisted that the maximum response it might elicit from a then weary world would be some act of charity, if at all”, and “we would be lumped together with them (the Second World War refugees), at worst another demographic case for the United Nations”, and the systematic destruction and ethnic cleansing of Palestine would be “soon to be hailed by hack novelists and propagandists in America and Europe as a heroic ‘return’”. Then the victims, who paid a devastating price for a crime committed in Europe, will be told: “You’re refugees, don’t make a nuisance of yourselves: we’ll do something about it. Refugee aid after a few months will trickle in: you’ll be numbered and housed in tattered tents and tin shacks. And try and forget, please. Hang on to your rocks wherever you are, and try to forget”.
Zionism has been clearly concerned about the Palestinian refugees whose negation is the most consistent thread running through Zionism. It has desperately attempted to erase them from the dominant narrative that reduced the settler-colonial Zionist project to a ‘heroic return’ and a mere ‘re-claiming’ of a land originally promised to them by God. Israel’s fourth prime minister, Golda Meir who notoriously once said, “There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed”, assumed that time will make the Palestinian refugees forget about their right to return: ‘The old will die and the young will forget’. Similarly, Ben-Gurion once bluntly said, “We must do everything to ensure that they never do return!” However, Palestinians, generation after generation, have demonstrated that forgetting was deemed just impossible and unthinkable. Thus, it is no wonder that the issues of the Palestinian refugees, as well as the Palestinian citizens of ‘Israel’ are the ones that electrify Israel the most.
As Jabra I. Jabra once stressed, “The Palestinian may still be an exile and a wanderer, but his voice is raised in anger, not in lamentation”. Currently, Palestinians, including intellectuals, artists, journalists and activists, are dispersed everywhere, doing every thing possible to make the issue of Palestine reclaim its centrality in the world’s political arena. The Palestinian struggle for liberation has become a global struggle thanks to the collective efforts of justice believers around the world. This anger shall keep resonating as long as Palestinians keep enduring the injustices that were brought to them due to the existence of the Zionist state of Israel, regardless of their geographic location. Countless examples of Palestinians have constantly demonstrated that even if the elderly die without returning, the young will keep on holding the key, embracing their legitimate right to return.
A Palestinian artist adds a creative touch on the pillars of smoke caused by the Israeli bombings in Gaza.
Below is my translation of a powerful article Louay Odeh wrote about the relationship between our Palestinian people in Gaza and resistance. I thought it is worth reading.
“The full support of resistance demonstrated by the Palestinian people in Gaza has been the greatest and the most obvious since the first Intifada 25 years ago,” A friend of mine from Gaza who is responsible for centres which became refuge to tens of thousands of families who have become homeless since the start of the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
It is not surprising to see the clear popular support of resistance, its call upon them to continue until their demands are met, and the total willingness and readiness of the public to pay whatever price entailed. It is not only related to the political affiliation, but resistance has become an integral part of geographic identity. It is difficult to find someone in Gaza who is opposing resistance, regardless of her/his political affliction. This is neither resulted from a united political program or adopting one strategy that unites everybody. It is the outcome of a general awareness our people in Gaza acquired by experience.
Every person in Gaza has become more experienced that the most well-known military or political analyst on earth. Everybody inGaza recognises the fact that there is no other option. They believe that they cannot trust any project, except for resistance, as it is the only thing that is able to offer a dignified human life to them. This conviction came after they lost trust in the so-called “peace process’, and anyone who represents it. They also lost trust in the international solidarity and human rights organisations and its agendas. Above all, they lost confidence in the Arab governments which usually exploits their cause to serve their own interest, not them.
Our Palestinian people in Gaza have paid blood and years amidst unbearable life under a suffocating siege until they reached this outcomes. No one managed to open a single crossing or offer the least human needs for them, such as water, electricity and freedom of movement. There are many attempts by political analysts who graduated from the most prominent universities, and political experts worldwide to understand Gaza and the harmonic relationship between its people and the resistance. They failed as Gaza doesn’t bend to any equation, and no political, or social or economical rule can be applied to Gaza due to its uniqueness.
In Gaza, you can find the Fateh-affiliated people opposing their leadership in Ramallah and chanting for resistance. In Gaza, you will find Muslims and Christians, the poor and the wealthy people, the Communists and the Islamists, all standing hand in hand with resistance with one hope uniting them: The victory of resistance.
Gaza which celebrate as it bleeds has its own uniqueness. Even Nature rules, such as sunset and sunrise, cannot be applied to like in Gaza. Life there is organised according to the power-cut program. For example, the morning may rise at 10 pm and disappear as sun is rising. Moreover, only in Gaza, a car can be sold after 5 years of use with a higher price because of how much it costed its owner. In Gaza, which is complex despite its simplicity, everybody knows that the end of this crisis and its outcomes will contribute to change their lives at least 2 years onwards. They have strong faith that the resistance will impose the conditions of truce which are going to be related their day-to-day life such as electricity, water or opening of borders. Therefore, this leaves no other option to the people but supporting resistance no matter what the cost will be.
Armed struggle is no longer a political strategy or merely a means of resistance. Resistance has become a wide term that includes many things. It is life. It is the ability to travel, to study, to receive a proper medical care. Above all, it has become a symbol for their dignity and an integral part of their identity. We’ve never heard them chanting for opening the borders, as they already know that it much be included among the conditions of possible ceasefire. Opening the borders will be the axiomatic outcome of the steadfastness of resistance in the battlefield. It will no longer controlled by a human will related to the mood of neighbouring countries and their agendas. The fact that everyone is conspiring against this piece of land imposed a new definition of resistance on them which will be taught later in military sciences. Gaza has managed to formulate this new definition which has become a central part of this geographic identity. Yes, it is identity that its most important component is resistance, and anyone who believes in humanity should feel honoured to adopt it.
Free Palestine. Down with Zionism. Glory for the martyrs!
My body shakes as tears fall out of control after watching the first minute of Al Jazeera’s 22-minute documentary on the Shujaiya massacre which Israel committed in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood a week ago today, killing dozens and flattening the entire area.
Thinking that the footage contained in Massacre at Dawn is just a fraction of the horror makes it even worse. No wonder Israel prevented media from covering the brutality that our people endured there.
(Readers in the United States can watch the documentary with English subtitles here. It can also be watched on Al Jazeera Arabic without subtitles.)
I tried to put myself to sleep as only sleep can give me a break from the pain. My attempts failed. So I got up to share with you the most heartbreaking scenes that keep playing back once I close my eyelids.
“My son is gone!”
The mother’s voice at 3:35 in the video saying, “My son is gone! Mahmoud is gone” echoes in my mind.
The mother was running, escaping death along with her son. Her son suddenly is shot and falls. She stops despite that Israeli forces were still shooting.
She risks her life to rescue him and starts screaming, “My son got injured. My son is dying. Help!” But no ambulances are allowed there. Finally a man comes, carries her son and they continue running. I don’t know if they survived.
Watch the traumatized elderly man at 5:58 who stutters, out of breath, “There was shelling. Everything was bombed.”
“We were stuck in the house while bombings everywhere. My son was killed and my hand got injured,” he says (my translation). “My son is still over there [in the house]. We were sitting together. I went to the toilet. I returned to find blood flooding out of his neck. He has been bleeding since the morning.”
Listen to the cries of the man at 7:00 who tries to prevent the camera from filming him, refusing to appear broken. “Instead of [us] feeding our babies with milk, they sent them rockets!” he exclaims.
The reporter asks him, “Do you have a house here?” He replies, “I have a house and I lost my four kids,” trying to hide his tears from the camera.
“Are they kids? Don’t worry. Speak so the world can see what we’re suffering here,” the reporter says. So the man tries hard to continue with a voice choked with tears, ”They’re kids. I don’t know where they are!” They might be lost, or dead, or under the rubble, some people took them or they evaporated, he says.
Listen to the woman at 8:05 who is running and screaming like mad: “Our house collapsed over us while were inside. We left, miraculously” (my translation).
Then comes the injured child Bisan Daher on her hospital bed at 9:35, whose condition is like countless others who were the only survivors of their massacred families. She lost her parents and her siblings.
At 10:20, a man is crying with his children: “We were sleeping at the house normally. I don’t know how, the house was shelled all of a sudden. And shelled once again. I got out to find my wife dying in the hallway” (my translation).
His son at 10:35 says (my translation): “Our house was destroyed and my mother was killed. We took her to hospital but she became a martyr. She was looking through the window of my sister’s room when a missile hit the apartment below us and killed her. And our house was destroyed, how will we live?”
At 10:55, the boy’s sister says, “We weren’t doing anything. I woke up after a ‘warning’ rocket hit our house. Only seconds later, we found Mom dying in the hallway. We started screaming, calling for ambulance to rescue her but she was already dead. May she rest in peace.”
“Just like in 1948!”
At 12:28, a man who is fleeing says (my translation), “At al-Mansoura street, we were running in between bodies, torn pieces are on both sides, everywhere. Houses collapsed over their inhabitants. Worse than Sabra and Shatila.”
Another man escaping with his family says at 16:10: ”Just like in 1948! We are fleeing again. Let the world hear this. This is a new exodus.”
Within the scene of people fleeing Shujaiya, an elderly man paralyzed by shock is unable to run. His son retrieves him and carries him on his back, as he says, “May God get revenge of them [Israel].”
#GazaUnderAttack: As you watch this, just remember that this is just a glimpse of the indescribable horror endured by our people in Shujaiya.
That’s why Israel didn’t want its ugliness to be reported to the world and prevented media from entering the area as they were massacring civilians.
Remember that these people are the voices who had a chance to be heard. They were luckier than others, who suffered and were killed amidst the world’s silence.
All those who appear in this photo were murdered in one F16 attack against the building which they sought as refuge. This photo is what remains of them.
“Dad, I don’t want to die. Let us leave here,” six-year old Yasmin Al-Kilany screamed to her father while she was sitting on his lap, terrified. Then her 8-year-old brother, Yasir, also started nagging his father to leave. The children’s ability to cope with the horrors of life in the northern Gazan city of Beit-Lahya had clearly been extinguished, so their father, Ibrahim, decided to move.
Beit-Lahya, which is under continuous and random shelling from missiles, F16s and tanks, is almost empty now. A huge number of Palestinian families fled to the UNRWA schools, which have suffered a growing humanitarian crisis as a result. Almost 102,000 people have taken shelter in 69 schools, according to UNRWA.
The Al-Kilany family fled to Al-Shijaeyya, but the circle of Israel’s brutal attack continued to expand. On 20 July, Israel committed an atrocious Sabra-and-Shatilla-like massacre against the innocent people of Al-Shijaeyya, killing at least 66 people, including 26 children.
What the Al-Kilany family witnessed in Al-Shijaeyya forced the family to flee, again, along with all the residents who were running barefoot while shells and tank fire chased them. Amidst the bodies that were scattered everywhere between the rubble of the houses, they managed to survive.
They rented an apartment in the Al-Israa building in the neighbourhood of Al-Remal, a supposedly safer place. The children calmed down a little. In an attempt to restore a normal family atmosphere after days of horror, the mother, Taghrid, started preparing a dining table for the family to break their fast.
Around sunset, while the Al-Kilany clan were sitting around the table, waiting to hear the call for prayer that would allow them to eat, an F16 war-plane suddenly shelled the Al-Israa building, mixing food with their blood and torn pieces under the piles of rubble.
The family simply ceased to exist; Ibrahim and his wife Taghrid, and their five children aged between four and 12, were wiped out in seconds. Like many other families, nothing now remains of them except for rubble and makeshift graves. Among the dozens of massacres that Israel committed against families in Gaza, one or two from each family survived miraculously. No miracle happened though to rescue even one of of Al-Kilany family to share with us the last topic the family discussed before being murdered. No one.
‘Why does the EU and the international community turn a blind eye?’
The painful story of the Al-Kilany family was painstakingly narrated by Ahmad, brother of Taghrid, to Ola Atallah, a reporter from Gaza. Ahmad was trying hard to suppress his pain while narrating the story.
He eventually burst in tears, asking “what did Taghrid and her children do? Why isn’t the international community shouldering the responsibility and taking serious actions to stop the Palestinian bloodshed? They escaped twice from death but death chased them to wherever they sought refuge. Israel is fighting children, targeting families everywhere.”
The father, Ibrahim Al-Kilany, held a German passport after living there 20 years. He completed his studies as a civil engineer in a German university and worked as an engineer there for over a decade. He returned to Gaza in 2001 to get married and raise a family.
Earlier this year Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, was awarded Israel’s “presidential medal of distinction.” The German chancellor deserved this honor, some journalists dutifully reported, because of her “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.” This might explain why Germany has shown no concern over the killing of so many families by Israel, including German citizens.
The statement issued by the European Union on 22 July shows a clear bias towards Israel. They condemned “the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians.” On the other hand, they repeatedly asserted that they recognise “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks.”
But the EU didn’t recognise our people’s right, guaranteed by UN resolutions, to use force in the struggle for “liberation from colonial and foreign domination.” General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978 “reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle.”
More than 800 people have been brutally killed so far, 90% of them innocent civilians. Recognising Israel’s “legitimate right to defend itself” gives Israel a justification to kill them, and kill more. So any “concern” over the human cost caused by Israel in Palestine is meaningless. Our Palestinian people know very well that the EU, and the international Community, is as guilty as Israel as their silence is what gives Israel the impunity and the green light to carry out its massacres.
We know that nothing makes a Palestinian an exception. Ibrahim Al-Kilany’s cousin made this point powerfully, saying: “Their German passports didn’t offer his and his children’s lives an impunity. No German nor American nationality stops Israel from murdering us. Israel is like a monster that destroys everything it encounters. Residential buildings collapse over its residents. This is genocide.”
With plumes of black smoke still spiralling into Gaza’s sky, and Israeli shells from land, sea and sky still raining down on the coastal Palestinian enclave, threatening death for the 1.8 million Palestinians living under the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the western governments are still watching and barely doing anything to stop the Palestinian bloodshed, but repeatedly asserting their commitment to Israel’s security. The international media, and international politicians, continue to show a clear bias to the Israeli narrative, which makes them complicit in the ongoing crimes against humanity that Israel is committing against the civilians of Gaza.
Our people in Gaza have been left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world — an army that has hundreds of nuclear warheads, thousands of soldiers armed with Merkava tanks, F-16s, Apache helicopters, naval gunships and phosphorous bombs made in the United States. Gaza has no army, no navy and no air force. And yet Israel plays the victim role.
The Israeli attack on our people has continued for 19 days. The Israeli occupation isn’t sufficient by the bloodshed they’ve caused, and continues to blame Hamas for the collective punishment of the population of the Gaza Strip. It is very important that the world acknowledges the fact that we are the occupied and the persecuted. Our resistance should come under the self-defense, not Israel’s terror.
We will not forget nor forgive every drop of blood shed by a Palestinian child. We will continue resisting, and neither Israel nor the International community shall manage to break our determination. No one shall stand in the way of our pursuit of freedom, justice and equality.
wounded children from Al-Shijaeyya area in Gaza stretching out in Gaza Hospitals which cannot any more accommodate the increasing number of injures. All of them are critical.
Where is humanity? Where are the people of conscience around the world? Our people in Gaza are being massacred, under genocide operation. #Israel doesn’t differentiate between ages. After many families were massacred including Al-Batsh, Hamad, Ghannam, Al-Haj. This time many families at once were massacred in Al-Shijaeyya.
The families there refused to evacuate their houses, remain dignified in their homes, and reject Israel’s attempt to make them homeless and humiliated with other 60 thousands Palestinians who filled UNRWA schools. Israel’s reaction to people’s steadfastness was randomly shelling their houses with artillery shells, tanks fire and F16 missiles towards the families’ houses who held in between its walls only children, women and elderlies. The Israeli Occupation Forces destroyed houses upon its inhabitants. People’s bodies were buried under the rubble for hours. Israel panned ambulances and media to to reach them, rescue them and let the cries of massacred be heard. In an attempt to veil these crimes Israel committed against the innocent inhabitants of Al-Shijaeyya, they prevented media from being there to document the massacre and let the world be a witness of it.
When the attack started, the inhabitants of Al-Shijaeyya started running barefoot, traumatised while missiles and artillery shells are chasing them for long distances without finding a safe shelter. But there were no secure refuge. A women with her kids stopped to rest under an olive tree. Her 13-year-old child was sitting on her lap when all of a sudden she found her bleeding, killed after she was targeted by tank fire. Traumatised mother started running again with the rest of her children trying to rescue who survived from them.
The Israeli occupation endorsed a two-hour ‘humanitarian’ truce starting from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm, to let the ambulances take injured and martyrs bodies. Within these two hours, they continued shelling people who were escaping from inevitable murder, committing a terribly atrocious massacre against our people in Al-Shijaeyya, medics and reporters.
Ambulances hurried to rescue the massacred people there during the two-hour truce, but Israel immediately violated the truce and attacked them. At least two of the medics and reporters were killed. At least nine were wounded.
More than 66 people were killed in a cold blood in Al-Shijaeyya massacre, including 26 children. Gaza hospitals received hundreds of injuries, most of them are children and women. There is a shortage in hospitals, in medical equipments. They cannot accommodate the increasing number of the injured people who are all suffering a critical injuries which threatens more lives with death. Palestinians reporters say that they witnessed huge number of wounded people laying on the floor, because there are not enough hospital beds.
You international activists around the world, especially in Europe and the USA, Israel acts with impunity because of your countries’ silence and unconditional support in all sectors to Israel. Your bias media which inverts between the oppressor and the victim supports Israel to continue massacring our people! Go to streets now and call for an immediate stop to the Palestinian bloodshed! Hold Israel accountable to its uncountable and deadliest crimes against our isolated Palestinian people in besieged Gaza. Call for BDS Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. Call for cutting ties with Israel. Let them know that their money and taxes is used to support Israel with weapons and war vehicles to kill us in Palestine. We shall not forgive nor forget. We shall keep resisting with all legitimate means that we have as occupied people until justice is done to every drop of blood Palestinians shed across the 66 years of this ongoing occupation.
Names and ages of people who fell victim to Al-Shijaeyya massacre:
Narmin Rafiq Dyab Ayyad, 19 years old.
Fidaa Dyab Ayyad, 23 years old.
Ahmad Sami Deyab Ayyad, 27 years old.
Osama Rebhe Shehde Ayyad, 32 years old.
The child Mohammed Ramy Fathi Ayyad, 2 years old.
The child Mohammed Ashraf Rafiq Ayyad, 5 years old.
Muna Abderrahman Mahmoud Ayyad, 41 years old.
Hala Subhy Saady Ayyad, 24 years old.
The child Ghada Subhy Saady Ayyad, 11 years old.
The child Shireen Fathi Othman Ayyad, 17 years old.
Ibrahim Aref Ibrahim Al-Ghalayini, 26 years old
Mohammed Mohammed Ali Mhareb Jundiyya, 38 years old.
Alaa Jamaliddin Mohammed Barda, 34 years old.
Ahmad Ishaq Yousef Al-Ramlawi, 32 years old.
Ahed Saad Musa Sarsak, 35 years old.
Adel Abdallah Salim Eslim, 38 years old.
The child Dima Adel Abdallah Eslim, 2 years old.
The child Shady Ziyad Hasan Eslim, 15 years old.
The child Alaa Ziyad Hasan Eslim, 11 years old.
The child Fady Ziyad Hasam Eslim, 10 years old.
The child Khalil Ismail Khalil Al-Hayye, 6 years old.
The child Osama Osama Khalil Al-Hayye, 8 years old.
Osama Osama Khalil Al-Hayye, 8 years old.
Hala Saqer Hasan Al-Hayye, 28 years old.
Osama Khalil Ismail Al-Hayye, 29 years old.
The child Omar Jamil Subhy Hammouda, 10 years old.
Wesam Majdy Mohammed Hammouda, 30 years old.
Yousef Ahmad Younis Mustafa, 62 years old.
Muna Salman Ahmad Al-Sheikh Khalil, 49 years old.
The child Heba Hamed Al-Sheikh Khalil, 13 years old.
The child Samya Hamed Al-Sheikh Khalil, 3 years old.
Tawfiq Barawi Salem Marshoud, 52 years old.
The child Marwa Salman Ahmad Al-Sirsawi, 13 years old.
Maysa Abderrahman Said Al-Sirsawi, 36 years old.
The child Marwa Salman Ahmad Al-Shirsawi, 13 years old.
The child Dina Rushdy Omar Hamada, 16 years old.
Eman Mohammed Ibrahim Hamada, 39 years old.
Ghada Ibrahim Sulaiman Odwan, 38 years old.
Ibrahim Salem Jumaa Al-Sahabany, 20 years old.
Israa Yasi Atiya Hamdiyya, 28 years old.
Akram Mohammed Ali Al-Sakafi, 63 years old.
The child Eman Khalil Abed Ammar, 9 years old.
Tala Akram Ahman Al-Atwi, 7 years old.
Kaled Ryad Mohammed Hamad, 25 years old.
Khadija Ali Musa Shhada, 62 years old.
Khalil Salem Ibrahim Musbeh, 53 years old.
Aysha Ali Mahmoud Zayed, 54 years old.
Abderrahman Akram Mohammed Al-Skafi, 22 years old.
Esam Atehhe Said Al-Skafi, 26 years old.
Musab Salaheddim Al-Skafi, 27 years old.
Ali Mohammed Hasan Al-Skafi, 27 years old.
Mohammed Hasan Mohammed Al-Skafi, 53 years old.
Abderrahman Abderrazq Abderrahman Al-Sheikh Khalil, 24 years old.
Abdallah Mansoor Redwan Amarah, 23 years old.
Abedrabo Ahman Mohammed Rayed, 58 years old.
Fatma Abderrahim AbdelQadir Abu Ammouna, 55 years old.
Fahmy Abdel-Aziz Saad Abu Said, 29 years old.
Mohammed Raed Ehsan Akkila, 19 years old.
The child Marah Shaker Ahmad Al-Jammal, 11 years old.
Marwan Muneir Saleh Qunfud, 23 years old.
Yousef Salem Habib, 26 years old.
Tareq Fayiq Hajjaj, 22 years old.
Ahmad Ziyad Hajjaj, 21 years old.
Musaab Nafez Al-Ejla, 30 years old.
Resistance until freedom, justice and equality. Glory for the martyrs! Down with #zionism!
This drawing of mine describes the way I feel: depressed, frustrated and suffocated while waiting for the Rafah border crossing to open.
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.
When I heard that the Palestinian Authority agreed to resume negotiations with the Israeli occupation, I fell into a depression. Here we go again, I thought.
It is a repeat of the what followed the 1993 Oslo accords, time after time.
Yet again, the Israelis are represented by Tzipi Livni, who as a member of the government played a key role during Israel’s 2008–2009 invasion of Gaza.
And opposite her, once again, is Saeb Erekat as Palestinian “chief negotiator.”
How could the blood of the 1,400 victims killed during that massacre be forgotten so quickly? How could Erekat share the same table with her, as he did at a Ramadan iftar at the house of US Secretary of State John Kerry, exchanging smiles in the name of “diplomacy” and “realism”?
The first 26 were freed on 13 August, 11 to the West Bank and 15 to Gaza.
Confidence? Progress? The same buzzwords were used about the Oslo accords two decades ago. Has no lesson been learned?
As Addameernotes, “over 23,000 Palestinians have been released since 1993 as ‘goodwill measures’ during various negotiations and peace talks. However, in that same period, at least 86,000 Palestinians have been arrested, including children, women, disabled persons and university students.”
Currently Israel holds more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Such “confidence-building measures” are a sham!
In fact, what Israel has been doing all along is accelerating its settlement-building measures. Since 1993, the number of settlers in the occupied West Bank has continued to grow, as Palestinians, impoverished and squeezed, continue to be displaced by Israeli home demolitions and land confiscation.
Since its creation, the Palestinian Authority has served as Israel’s first line of defense against any Palestinian resistance to this colonization.
Because of inaction, and global acceptance of decades-long brutality and land theft – as long as Israel is committing it – the number of illegal Israeli settlers is now more than 600,000.
Of course, just days before the next round of talks were supposed to start, Israel has announced plans to add 1,200 more settler homes.
How could we return to negotiations based on this same framework with the same US mediators?
Saeb Erekat, of all people, knows – and this was exposed by the leaked Palestine Papersin 2011 – that when he offered Israel almost all the settlements, and the right of return of our refugees, it wasn’t enough. Israel still demanded more.
“What is in that paper gives them the biggest Yerushalaim in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarised state … what more can I give?” Erekat told an American official in 2010.
Although he supposedly “resigned” after these revelations, Erekat and all the other discredited people, who should never be representing Palestinians in the first place, are back for more.
Remember that the Palestinian Authority had vowed not to return to negotations until Israel agreed to freeze settlements. They couldn’t even keep that promise. How could they be trusted to protect any Palestinian rights?
The meaning of peace
As much as peace is a dream for the Palestinian people, I sometimes wish I could wipe out the word “peace” from the dictionary.
We do hope to see a just peace, but with those who really want peace, not with such a brutal occupier whose talk of peace while playing the victim serves as an obscene cover for unrelenting crimes against our people.
Prisoners give us hope
The unyielding stance of many former prisoners and the families of detainees towards such compromises has always revived my hope.
Their opposition was not softened by the news of the prisoner release, and they are the ones who know best what it is like to be imprisoned or have a loved one in prison.
They were some of the first people who organized rallies in Gaza protesting the resumption of negotiations describing them as nothing more than “concessions.”
I was delighted to see their anger directed at the Palestinian Authority, which some of them accused of betrayal.
Detainees and released prisoners have an unmovable willingness to remain patient, to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to bring justice to our people, without a flicker of hesitation.
At the same time they affirm that the liberty of any prisoner is a victory that neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority can spoil.
We must not let the use of our detainees as a political tool dampen the joy that their families and communities feel at seeing them return home.
Israel cannot steal people’s joy
At midnight, on 14 August, the Palestinian people were due to witness the first prisoners come home.
The Israelis deliberately released the prisoners very late, likely to prevent as many people as possible from gathering to celebrate their freedom.
However, thousands of people in Gaza and the West Bank welcomed them home from Israel’s “graves for the living,” with Palestinian flags, fireworks, songs and chants of freedom.
And we know that all of these releases come with no guarantees: whenever Israel decides to take their liberty back, they will be re-arrested.
“At least 12 prisoners who were re-arrested after their release in the October 2011 prisoner exchange are currently facing the possibility of serving the remainder of their previous sentences,” Addameer notes.
But nothing will stop us rejoicing for every mother who fought to live long enough to hold her son in her arms once again, or for children having to live as orphans with only their father’s image in their minds or hanging on the walls, finally seeing their dad in person.
And all Palestinians waiting for justice, or waiting to come home, will be inspired by the patience of the families who overcame decades of absence and suffering as they crossed endless Israeli apartheid checkpoints and endured racist and humiliating treatment to see their beloved for 45 minutes at a time through a glass screen.
Just one prisoner released from Israel’s narrow and dirty cells, unfit for humans, is a victory.
No applause for the PA
But there’ll be never be applause for the Palestinian Authority, which, while giving up our basic rights, trades with Palestinians’ emotions towards their loved ones in Israeli prisons in order to give legitimacy to endless rounds of futile negotiations.
While forgetting its own crimes against us, including the countless ones for which no one has ever been held accountable, Israel always tries to highlight a few cases to paint Palestinians as monsters.
Over the decades, some 750,000 Palestinians have been in Israel’s prisons. They are the ones who willingly took on their shoulders the struggle to bringing back freedom, dignity and a just peace for their oppressed people.
For that they were willing to sacrifice the most precious of things: their freedom. We demand the release of all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and call for an immediate end to the abominable treatment of Palestinian detainees. Resistance to a brutal military occupation is not a crime, but a duty.
Our people’s sacrifices and ongoing suffering under this merciless occupation will not go in vain.
Palestinian people demonstrating in Jerusalem in front of the French Consulate the delay of Georges Abdallah’s release. (Amjad Abu Asab)
The hero Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a pro-Palestinian Lebanese leftist who has spent 28 years in French prison, was supposed to be freed on Monday and expelled from France to Lebanon.
Georges joined the Popular Front for the Liberation ofPalestine in the 1960s, before joining the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions. He was jailed because he was a true human, a true revolutionary who dedicated his life fighting injustice. He had a great faith in the just cause of Palestine. He sacrificed 28 years of his prime for the sake of the Palestinian people’s justice and freedom. The Palestinian people are excitingly waiting for his release.
However, there is a kind of dissapoitment in the Palestnian and Lebanese streets regarding his release conditions. His release has been postposed and his deportation order has been canceled. A French Interior Minister Manuel Valls refused to sign an expulsion order, a necessary condition for Abdallah’s release. Georges’ supporters fear the postponement is a first step to renew his detention. “We are hopeful, but we don’t know what will happen,” George’s brother Robert Abdallah said. “This case is outside of the judicial realm and is now a political issue.”
He was arrested in 1984 on the basis that he was complicit in the killing of Charles Robert Ray, an American military attaché, and Yacov Barsimentov, an Israeli embassy advisor, in Paris in 1982. The United States and Israel pressured France over the years to prevent Abdallah’s release, under the pretext that he had never apologized or expressed regret for the murders. A former director of the French intelligence agency, Yves Bonnet, later said that Georges was the victim of “an illegal intelligence conspiracy.”
This photo was taken in Jerusalem in front of the French Consulte today. Palestinian people organized a sit-in and held Georges’ photos calling for his release. They aimed to express their anger at the delay of Geroges’ release and their disapproval of the fasciest French policies. Freedom for George Abdallah!
Jihad’s father, holding Jihad’s picture, celebrates his son’s upcoming release from Israeli prison. (Amjad Abu Asab)
Palestinian detainee Jihad al-Obeidi will be freed on 20 January after 25 years in Israeli prisons. His family has already started decorating their house in Jerusalem with colorful lights and Palestinian flags to celebrate Jihad’s freedom. They are excited to welcome him home and fill his place, which has been empty for 25 years.
Jihad al-Obeidi was charged for affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and accused of trying to kill Israeli soldiers. He was sentenced to 25 years of detention, despite never having attended a trial. He was absent from the court that sentenced him, after he was expelled for refusing to stand for its racist judges.
Jihad wrote to his family that the first place he will visit after his release will be the grave of his nephew, Milad Ayyash. Milad was a 17-year-old boy whose life was cut short in May 2011 as he fell prey to an Israeli criminal who still walks freely somewhere, having escaped from justice by virtue of being an Israeli settler. Milad was killed when the settler’s bullet pierced his chest as Palestinians from the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem commemorated the 64th anniversary of the Nakba.
The Nakba is the gloomiest period in Palestinian history, the year of mass killing, dispossession and systematic ethnic cleansing of three quarters of a million Palestinians from 513 Palestinian villages. The Zionist entity, what is called now Israel, was built on their ruins.
Killed by settler
Silwan residents were demonstrating outside an illegal settler home in the Beit Yonatan neighborhood of East Jerusalem – the site of yet another eviction by radical settlers attempting to Judaize that part of the city – when a window suddenly opened from the settler lair and shots rang out, leaving Milad to drown in his own blood. (See the photos of Milad’s funeral, taken by Mahmoud Illean.)
Tragically, Milad was born and killed during his uncle Jihad’s imprisonment. Milad never saw his uncle Jihad, as only first-degree relatives are allowed family visits – if they aren’t banned – according to the Israeli Prison Service’s inhumane rules. But Jihad was introduced to Milad through his photographs and his mother’s stories of him, which made Milad feel close to his uncle. Milad was attached to his uncle, as well as the Palestinian prisoners in general, as he is also the son of ex-detainee Saeed Ayyash, released in a 1985 prisoner exchange. Milad’s thoughts travelled to the day when his uncle Jihad would be free. He often shared his thoughts with his mother: “We will be Uncle Jihad’s first destination when he is released, right, Mum?”
The painful news of Milad’s murder broke Jihad’s heart. Filled with sorrow at his murder, Jihad decided to make Milad’s wish true and visit him first. He will visit his grave to show that Israel doesn’t kill our children, it immortalizes them, and that, sooner or later, Israel will be held accountable for all its crimes against humanity.
Solidarity hunger strike
A scaned photo of Loai and his comrades taken in prison. Loai is on the very left. Jihad al-Obeidi is the send from the right.
Loai was one of the hunger strikers who took the sky as their ceiling and trees as their walls, with a surrounding tent to protect them from the sun. He decorated the tent behind his bed with pictures of detainees who he feels most attached to, including Jihad Obeidy.
That motivated me to Google his name. I found a touching video of his parents that shows the torment Palestinian detainees’ parents typically endure, especially for the sake of their 45-minute family visits. The video began with Jihad’s 75-year-old mother introducing herself, saying, “I am Um Jihad al-Obeidi. I was born in Lifta.”
Lifta is a village on the northern fringes of Jerusalem, one of hundreds of Palestinian villages seized by the newly-established Jewish state in 1948. But it is one of the few not to have been subsequently covered in the concrete and tarmac of Israeli towns and roads, or planted over with trees and shrubs to create forests, parks and picnic areas, or transformed into Israeli artists’ colonies. The ruins of Lifta were threatened many times with being bulldozed and turned into luxury housing units.
A sigh, and a moment of silence, followed that sentence, as if Umm Jihad meant to remind everyone that her village is originally Palestinian, and that for the injustice Palestinian people face, we continue to struggle and pay the price of freedom. For many Palestinians, Lifta is a symbol of the Nakba, of their longing for their land and bitterness at their continued refugee status, a physical memory of injustice and survival.
A photo of Um Jihad al-Obeidi, taken from her balcony that overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem (Amjad Abu Asab)
Since Jihad was arrested, his mother fell into depression, then became ill with cancer. She went through chemotherapy and four surgeries. However, her longing to see her son again served as her source of strength. Her fear of passing away before hugging her son again never left her mind. She was able to visit him only once every year because her critical health wouldn’t allow her to travel far.
“May God grant us health and patience to see you freed,” Jihad’s mother says in the video, while hugging her son’s picture and kissing it. “It’ll be the happiest moment when you are set free. God willing, I’ll live long enough to hug you, away from Israel’s bars and jailers’ inspecting eyes, and carry your kids.”
Jihad will be free in a matter of few days, but these days feel like years to his mother.
Jihad’s parents, like all detainees’ parents, suffered from the Israel Prison Service’s (IPS) ill treatment, especially during family visits. In Jihad’s twenty-five years of detention, the IPS transferred him between almost every Israeli jail, so that he never enjoyed a sense of stability. They never considered the distance between his jail and his family’s house. For years, Jihad’s parents traveled long distances to reach prisons, then suffered verbal and physical harassment, humiliation, strip searches and long hours of waiting.
Promises and bitterness
“Jihad keeps promising us that he will never let us do anything at home when he is released,” his father said with a slight smile. “He said he will cook and clean and serve us with all his strength, as he could feel how much we tolerate Israel’s torture to visit him. Sometimes in the winter, during family visit, Israeli soldiers used to make us stand and wait outside prison, as the sky snowed over us.”
Despite these family visits symbolizing a lifeline to prisoners and their families, the happiness of uniting and exchanging stories is mixed with bitterness. “Our tears start streaming down whenever we see him behind Israeli bars,” his father said with tearful eyes. “Our hearts ache to observe how he is growing old there.”
Jihad’s parents’ painful story is about to have a happy ending with his release. But thousands of prisoners are still behind Israeli bars, and they and their families continue to suffer. Thinking of other detainees and their families, who share the same pain, Jihad’s mother said, “My son has served most of his sentence, but many others are serving lifetimes. I call on everyone to remember these prisoners and keep following their just cause. Support them so they regain their freedom soon and return to their families.”
My message to Jihad al-Obeidi: this post is dedicated to you, to congratulate you in advance for your physical freedom. Israel has only succeeded in imprisoning your body, but never your mind, nor your determination and everlasting hope for complete freedom.
I’ve always looked at you, and all your comrades who sacrifice their most precious years for the sake of our freedom and dignity, as heroes. You’re the most dignified and the most courageous. Be certain that your people in Gaza are as excited for your freedom as your people in Jerusalem. Israel’s apartheid walls and checkpoints will never manage to make us apart. I know your happiness will be incomplete, as more than four thousands of your comrades remain inside Israeli jails. But we will raise our voices higher and continue to fight until all jails are emptied.
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.
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.
54- Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, the father.
55- Ranin Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 5 years old.
56- Jamal Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 7 year old.
57- Yousef Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 10 years old.
58- Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 1 year old.
59- Jamal Al-Dalou, the grandfather.
60- Sulafa Al Dalou, 46 years old
61- Samah Al-Dalou, 25 years old
62- Tahani Al-Dalou, 50 years old
63- Ameina Matar Al-Mzanner, 83 years old.
64- Abdallah Mohammed Al-Mzanner, 23 years old.
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.
Keep following this post. I’m going to keep updating it on everything that is happening as much as I can and as long as I’m breathing!
Shahd Abusalama is a Palestinian writer, artist and activist, born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp, Gaza, and now based in the UK. She is one of the co-founders of Hawiyya Dance Company who explore solidarity, identity, cultural resistance through Dabke, the folk dance of Palestine. She is a PhD student at Sheffield Hallam University, focusing on Palestinian cinema. She holds an MA in Media and the Middle East from SOAS, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Al-Azhar University - Gaza.