21 July, Midnight. The warning came. A text message. "You have 15 minutes to evacuate your home!"
What would you do? Run! But to where?
A young girl, her pregnant mother and her 9 year old brother give us a firsthand perspective of the real 'War on Terror'?
June 8, Israel mounted a full out invasion on the 'yet to be' occupied territory called Gaza, one of the last remaining 'unoccupied' territories in the land of Palestine. Our story begins in the neighborhood of Shejaiyah, a small neighborhood in Gaza, and it ends with you
There is a place. Beautiful, Powerful, Some of the most beautiful scenery and people that Earth has to offer.
Palestine is homage to a land, its people, and their traditions, that have prevailed over sixty years of siege and occupation. It is testament to a cultural inheritance that defies political borders, the celebration of a landscape that has inspired spiritual renewal in countless generations. In the natural wealth and history that run through its desert plains, its olive groves, its towns and villages, a beauty and diversity that demand to be preserved.
More than half of the population is women and children. Gaza is the most densely populated territory on earth, where 1.7 million defenseless Palestinians huddle together in an area of about 360 square km. Gaza forms the western-most portion of original Palestine, having land borders, with Egypt on the south-west and today’s Israel on the northern and eastern borders. The territory is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west.
On 8 July 2014, Israel launchedOperation Protective Edge,in the 'Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip'. After more than seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, and ground fighting, somewhere between 2,127 and 2,168 Gazans were killed (including 495–578 children) and between 10,895 and 11,100 were wounded. 66 Israeli soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians (including one child) and one Thai civilian were killed, and 469 IDF soldiers and 837 Israeli civilians were wounded. The Gaza Health Ministry, UN and some human rights groups reported that 69–75% of the Palestinian casualties were civilians. On 5 August, OCHA stated that 520,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (approximately 30% of its population) might have been displaced, of whom 485,000 need emergency food assistance and 273,000 are taking shelter in one of 90 UN-run schools. 17,200 Gazan homes were totally destroyed or severely damaged, and 37,650 homes suffered damage but were still inhabitable. This is only one of many other operations, including Operation Cast Leadfrom 2008 - 2009, and Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012
This is the story of one young girl; her pregnant mother and her 9 year old brother as they flee their home in Shejaiyah in search of some safe place take refuge. Innocent people who have been forced to live under illegal occupation and bombardment all their lives watch as their homes and lives are torn by hatred and terror. Her father is missing, her city is under siege, her brother is scared, her mother is ill, and bombs…
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs... Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home”
We are running from Shejaiyah. I don't know where my father is...a few hours ago he left home with a friend and he didn't return. Just minutes ago the Israelis fired a warning bomb on my friend and neighbor Alina's house, its means now they are going to blow up Shejaiyah with F- 16's. My mom is pregnant, she can't run, but my brother and I hold her as she tries to walk as fast as she can. My brother Ahmed is just nine; he helps me to hold my mother. We are trying to run. Everyone around us is running, but we don't know where we are going, we don't
know if we are running from death or towards death. Everyone is in a hurry; everyone is running, some trying to drive in cars, some on bicycles, and some on foot. The streets are full of people. We have only a few minutes to leave the place. 15 minutes of life, 15 minutes till death and 15 minutes for holding my mom and my brother.
My family is poor. We don't have a car or a bike to run fast. We don't have money to hire a taxi, and even if we had money, we would still be unable to hire a taxi because there are no taxis, there is only death. My mom has stopped now, she can't walk any more, she is trying to force us to leave her and run but we refuse. My brother is so scared; his eyes are full of fear and tears. I kiss Mom’s face. I say nothing, but kiss her several times on her cheeks. Mom asks me to leave, but how could I, how could I leave her, she is my mom. I know after a few minutes the Israelis will start dropping bombs. My land, my Shejaiyah. If I leave my mom here I will be never able to see her again. I don't want to leave her, and she doesn't want to walk any more with us. She knows she can't walk, and her inability will cause the death of her children. Time is running out. We are helpless. My mom falls to the ground. I sit with her, knowing we can't run. I look at my brother's face, he looks at me, we look at our mother's face, and then we look at the sky, waiting for the sounds of theF-16s.Timeto die.
I hold mother's hand and she holds Ahmed's hand. It's time to die. We lose 15 minutes. We can't leave, and that's a sin in Israeli laws - now they have every right to kill us. No one asks them why they kill us, why they want to kill my mother and my 9 year old brother. They call it a war, they call it defense. My own, my mother's, and my brother's death make Israel strong.
I don't want to be famous or enter into politics. I just want to tell the world, please, world, listen, please. I want to live. I don't want to die here, like this. I have ambitions. I have dreams, I want to be doctor, and I want to go to Disneyland. I want to watch FIFA world cup, to see Messi, my favorite Argentinean footballer, win the world cup in Brazil. I have been waiting for this world cup for the last four years. Please, let me stay alive. - I hold my mother's hand, I don't want to let go. She is pregnant, she is ill, we just want to live.
The street is empty now, no one is around us. There is a water tab in the middle of the street, but no water in the tab. A dog passes us by; he looks at us, then walks on. He can run, I wish he could understand me, I'd tell him, run, you silly dog, use your legs and run, you don’t have a pregnant mother to carry, you don’t have a nine year old brother to hold onto, you are free to run, don't you feel it, death is coming, Israel is coming, they will kill you, your death is their defense! But I can’t, he doesn't understand. He walks a few yards and then returns to sit with us, the poor dog knows nothing…. or maybe he does know and it is his choice to stay with us.
Mom is in pain now. Ahmed is scared. I am silent. We are all silent, even the dog. Death is coming. The sound of anF-16,like the sound of lightning striking the earth just inches away. A heavy blast east of us. We sit in the street under a shady tree, trying not to move. Actually we are not able to move, we are frozen, waiting for death, as a passenger waits for a train at therail-waystation. Here we sit waiting for a train that will carry us, not to the neighboring city or village, but on a one way trip, straight to the valley of death. Me, my mother, my nine year old brother and a poor stray dog that won't leave our side. I try to make him leave, I even hit him with a stick hoping to scare him, but I can't budge him. Somehow, I manage a smile, for a moment I feel a connection with this poor animal, he is just like me, and he is Palestinian too.
The bombs start now in Shejaiyah, explosion after explosion. Bomb after bomb after terrifying bomb, and with every explosion my mom holds my hand tighter. With every bomb I kiss my brother. We are trapped, nowhere to run now, explosions on every side of us, we look all around for help but we are alone. Maybe everyone else has escaped, or maybe they are all dead. The street is full of smoke, the darkness of night, the smell of bombs permeates the air, and death dances in the streets of Shejaiyah. Still I don’t know about my father. I don’t know if he is dead or if he is out there, somewhere, searching for us. I know if he is alive then he is looking for us. If he is still breathing, then he is screaming our names. He is our father, the guardian of our family, he loves us, the same as any American father, the same as any British father, the same as any Israeli father.
Silence. The bombs have stopped; theF-16'shave gone. Only dust and smoke are left. The rubble from the remains of the buildings and houses covers our faces. We look like ghosts, or like factory floor workers who have just seen a spirit.
How foolish, today's 'civilized' men; they try and conquer the planet. They attempt to cut through the crust and the mantle, to the heart of the Earth, to collect the treasure within, but cannot even gain access to their own hearts. Scientists and doctors have seen many heart diseases throughout our cultures, and have found many ways to cure these diseases but yet fail to see the most important and dangerous disease of all, hatred and selfishness. When our hearts are filled with these corruptions it begins our decline, it slowly poisons our bodies. Our blood circulates this poison through our veins to our limbs and through our organs, and little by little we begin to surrender to selfish, carnal and evil desires.
Bombs again. This time it is really heavy, dozens of bombs pounding all around us, the walls of houses around us shake with every explosion. We sit in the street, helpless. Israel is dropping bomb after bomb in every direction, they want to kill everyone in Shejaiyah. They want to kill me, my mother, my brother, even our new, poor, brave dog.
9 p.m. suddenly artillery shelling intensifies. Earlier in the day, leaflets were falling from the sky telling residents of the Shejaiyah to evacuate. I remember thinking, 'where are we supposed to go?' Most of the people stayed home, hoping, praying, and thinking, 'how can things possibly any get worse?' Tonight we see a strange smoke that has a terrible smell, it's hard to breathe, and I want to vomit. We keep expecting ambulances to come for us, to evacuate us. But the bombs keep falling in the streets and between the houses around us, and secretly we know, they aren't coming. I want to run, but there is nowhere to go. There is no safe place in Gaza.
Years ago, during the Cast Lead offensive here, people were advised to move to UNRWA schools, but even then they were not spared the indiscriminate targeting of Israeli forces. Ironically, even UNRWA headquarters in Gaza sustained some damage. Air strikes and naval shelling continued unabatedly. Moreover, for at least the last 20 years, Israel and the United States have been working to separate Gaza from the West Bank, in violation of the Oslo Accords, which they had only just signed, and which declared them to be an indivisible territorial unit.
The whole night Israel continued their brutal way of 'warfare' in Shejaiyah and throughout Gaza. Israeli tanks and artillery continued to shell northern and eastern Gaza. Fighter jets, F16s keep pounding us, even in the most densely populated regions. It was a long night full of terror and death. Israeli aggression on the unarmed people of Shejaiyah and Gaza is ruthless.
Its morning now, a line of fresh light is finally showing its face in the east. We still sit in the same place, under the same shady tree. The bombs have stopped now, and it's time to leave this place for a 'safer' shelter, but is there any safe shelter in Gaza? It is a million dollar question and no one has the answer. We decide that it’s time to start walking. We cross the street and walk for a bit. After a short while we come to an open place, aone-wayroad. It was here that I witnessed something terrible, more horrifying than I have words to express. It is in this place that I fully realize how far gone humanity is. Bodies…dozens…women and children…men….boys…young and old, everywhere, littering the streets like rubbish, in the bends, next to the buildings, broken and torn. All throughout the streets of Shejaiyah, sprawled among the debris, covered in dust and rubble, a sight no human should ever have to see, a memory no human, especially no child, should ever have to try to forget.
Not only has this Israeli assault forced thousands of panicked civilians to flee from their homes, with nowhere to run to, but this is also the month of Ramadan. We fasted in the morning, now we flee from our homes, away from our cupboards and our kitchens, we have nothing to eat. We keep our fast now, but without eating or drinking anything at all, we pray our Allah will accept our fast.
We stand now in an open area, confused, hungry. Where can we go? Death is everywhere; destruction is everywhere, the smell of blood all around us. Hundreds try to flee, with injuries, in pain. Young,women, children, all running from their homes in fear. Shejaiyah is only rubble now. My brother is thirsty, so I search for water, but there's none to be found. Mother is in extreme pain now, we need to rest, but we can't stop, so we just try and walk slowly. Our new friend, the strange, poor dog, is still with us, loyal, we are now grateful for his company. It's 9 a.m. here now, the sun is shining on us, and it is hot. I am still fasting, but my mother and my brother need water. There is a cart coming towards us, three fishermen are sitting on it. I ask them for water, finally Allah favors us, they have some, I give it to my mother and brother. They offer us a ride; apparently they are searching for a safe place too, so we accept, very grateful. For the first time in hours we feel we are not alone. As we sit with them on their cart and we start moving, I look back and see our new friend, our poor dog standing on the road, surrounded by dead bodies, just looking at us. I remember the last night, when we were in trouble and frightened, he stayed with us. Now as I look at him, standing there, alone, I realize we can't just leave him, he is our companion now. I jump from the cart and run to him. Maybe he realizes what I am thinking, because he runs towards me too. I pick him up and take him into the cart with us, he is our friend now.
We start our journey towards Gaza city, it is a long journey and along the way we see many dead bodies, injured people, destroyed homes, schools, medical centers. Almost everything we see has been destroyed. What happened last night was not a war; it was terror, destruction, genocide. Israel is collectively responsible for killing hundreds of innocent Palestinians in the streets of Shejaiyah this night. They attacked by drones, jets, navy ships, artillery, every weapon you can think of, they used it, against innocent civilians. We have now left Shejaiyah, but we haven't yet escaped death.
When we enter Gaza city, we leave our cart and our new fishermen friends, and an ambulance of paramedics leads us towards Al Shifa hospital. Al Shifa, which means healing in Arabic, is the largest medical complex in Gaza city, and the central hospital of Gaza. Here the situation is worse than we imagined. Israeli troops have pushed deeper into Gaza, the intense artillery shelling has shaken all corners of our home, from Shejaiyah, to Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya. InAl-Shifathe24-hourshift of nurses is more intense than ever. Emergency room and hospital doctors run from one case to another. Specialized doctors are constantly on call. Some stay in the hospital, not getting a chance to go home at all, or break their fast or even sleep during this horrific Ramadan.Al-Shifahospital is full, to bursting, with all types of cases - dismembered human body parts and limbs, burns to all parts of the body, including bad facial burns on a dead child whose two brothers were also killed by an Israeli tank shell while they slept in their bedrooms at Al Nada residential tower. I see a body completely burned, and I ask the doctors, "It is a girl, not a boy, her name is Walaa", says one of the doctors. In front of Shifa hospital, an ambulance siren calls, more dead and critically injured people are arriving, ambulance crews bringing bags of body parts to be matched up and identified. All of this is the gruesome result of Israeli air force fighter jets, artillery shelling and navy bombardment.
I met a doctor in Al Shifa hospital on 23 July; he says they have not seen electricity for 48 hours. One result of this specifically affects the dead: Hospitals have received hundreds of cases that need cold morgues to keep the bodies of the dead until family members and friends are able to get there to say goodbye and take the dead back, to their besieged homes and prepare for burial.
I search all of the hospital and the refugee camps, but don't find my father. I walk the streets and the roads during the ceasefires but find nothing. Whenever my mother asks about him I leave the room. What can I say to her? Eventually she just stops asking, she knows it makes me sad. The news shows us that in Shejaiyah hundreds died in the Israel assault. But I am not one who surrenders easily. I go to every place I can think of in search of my father. We don't have any relatives in Gaza so I am alone and it's a lonely search, but I refuse to give up.
On July 23, a Wednesday, I witness another brutal assault on a UN school in northern Gaza. I visited this school in search of my father. Here refugees from all different parts of Gaza came to seek out shelter. At 5 p.m. in the evening I enter the school. I have hardly checked one register in the reception area when I feel a blow on the outer wall of the school. It is a huge explosion, everything is shaking and I fall to the ground. As I stand up there is another explosion and then another, and another. I run towards the gate, but the man at the reception calls me and I start running towards him. Together we run to the basement. Israel is pounding the school for 20 minutes. We remain in the basement during this time. I am so scared that my hands are trembling.
After about 20 minutes I come outside. I see pools of blood staining the school courtyard in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, amid scattered books and belongings. There is a large scorch mark in the courtyard, marking the place where one of the tank shells hit. Dozens of people, including children, are being wheeled into a nearby hospital as sirens wail off in the distance. I watch as I sit in an ambulance on my way back toAl-Shifa.Later in the news they say that 15 people lost their lives in the school and more than 200 were wounded. I am sure that among the dead and injured in the school compound there were hundreds of people seeking shelter from heavy fighting in the area. "Where is humanity", I thought. How can the world just sit by and let this happen? Killing people in a refugee camp is a crime. Israel kills our children; it is a crime against humanity! We only want to live in peace. Please feel our feelings; I want to return to my home. I have my own dreams and memories there, please.
On July 24, a Thursday, in the morning, around 7 a.m., I am close to my mother's bed inAl-Shifahospital. I hear some chanting. They are singing"Allah-O-Akbar" in the halls of the hospital. When I go into the hall I find that the doctors had saved a premature baby who has been delivered from a woman killed in an Israeli airstrike the night before. It’s a joyful scene. I want to see the baby, so I ask the doctors but they say I can't. I understand why they won't allow it, but I am happy nonetheless. This was a pleasant start of the day, for a change.
After my breakfast I go to the hospital inquiry where I find that more than 825 people have been killed since the start of Israeli air strikes on the 7th of July, followed by the ground invasion on 13th, at least 185 of whom have been children. Over 5,200 people have been wounded, including at least 1,500 children. They also tell me that Israel has targeted hospitals and medical personnel, 5 hospitals and 10 Primary Health Care Clinics have been damaged and 13 health facilities have had to be closed due to attacks. 12 ambulances have also been damaged, 29 members of the health personnel injured, and 3 killed by Israeli airstrikes.
Why do humans start wars? We take our world and we divide it with borders, we segregate ourselves, we create opposing governments, then we make laws which we cannot possibly uphold. Why do we create such hardship and suffering for ourselves? Isn't it time to stand up and say no to war? Wars are not a solution. Wars only ever create more problems. Many of us want to believe that human beings are naturally aggressive and that war is a natural way of showing it. Regrettable, they say, but it's in our genes. Scientists have proved that aggression is not inborn. Of course many people do feel and show aggressiveness. But this is the result of circumstances, not biology. There is always a solid reason for aggressive behavior. Mostly due to social and economic problems but remember, this problem is often created by war. There is no solid reason for human beings to plan aggression on such a large scale, teach people how to put it into practice, and encourage them to carry it to lethal extremes.
Humans’ journey towards destruction started long before the phenomenon of war arose. It started when nations and groups prepared themselves with deadly weapons for war. Actually preparing for war is war. It's making sure that it will happen. So what, it may not be the war that's being prepared for. Saying no to war after preparing for war means that you try to prevent a fire after having already poured gas on your body while holding a match stick in your hand. Aggression and revenge are deliberately incited to fuel such wars. Whenever there is a war you find that political and military propaganda is the reason behind everything. They put fire to anger, hatred and impulses to attack others. All their propaganda is directed at the carnal aspects of the mind, inciting violence in simple men. But history teaches us that war is not the way to handle a problem. War itself is a problem. And the deep study of ancient history shows us that war simply isn't practical. Once one war starts it only serves to begin another war. It is a common phenomenon that hatred returns as hatred. The law of attraction. It is like a fire in dry grass which is easy to start but nearly impossible to stop and the result is only ever destruction and death wherever it starts.
Israel started a war with Palestine based entirely on a lie. From the very moment of its illegal creation, Israel has waged war against us, the natives of this land. Almost every year they attack us. Their reason for this is, again, based on a lie:self-defense.They need a war for the protection of their nation and its land against a people who have no defense, who have no army, no strong hold?How can you solve a problem that you have with others by use of guns or force? It is the 21st century. Whenever Israel uses force it creates more problems for Israel at the same time which results in another deadly war. The causes of a human conflict are too subtle and complex to be dealt with by brute force, which is no more than a crudeshort-term response that sets up a lot oflong-termtrouble. Hatred returns as hatred
On 26 July, 2014 Israel and Hamas begin a12-hourhumanitarian truce. It is a little relief for the people of Gaza. I am sitting in the courtyard ofAl-Shifahospital when a refugee tells me about this humanitarian truce. It is
great news for all those who want peace and not war, but there is a sad news too, Israel says it will continue to "locate and neutralize" Hamas tunnels during the pause, which is going to begin at 8 a.m. local time, and they vow to respond if Hamas attacks Israeli citizens during this time. For me it is alarming news, we know Hamas and Palestinians will never break a peace agreement. Israel on the other hand almost always breaks its agreements and 'treaties'. But maybe this time it’s just a fear of mine.
People in the courtyard ofAl-Shifahospital are happy and I am happy. Ceasefire means I have a free time to find my father or he will find us. There was also news that the International Community and American senator John Kerry tried to negotiate a seven day ceasefire. If this happened it would be great news. I hope this is true. The situation in Gaza keeps getting worse. We have no water, no food or medical supplies. Rafah border is open only for the injured, and only a few of them per day. Gaza is an open air prison. Palestinians are not allowed to leave. Rafah border is controlled by Egypt, and Israel blocks all other borders. Israel has chosen to be our enemy, but why Egypt, our Arab brothers and sisters, choose to harm us, we don't know.
We received news a little while ago, a new threat from Israel. A statement has come that the Israeli army warned that Gazans who have evacuated homes that were deemed to be under threat in planned attacks should not return to them. It also said that the military "shall respond if
Hamas chooses to exploit their position" during the pause, to attack Israeli troops, "or fire at Israeli civilians". Israel also stipulated that it would continue operations to destroy a network of tunnels between Gaza and Israel. A statement from Hamas said earlier that it, and other militant groups in Gaza, had reached "national consensus on a humanitarian truce. Meanwhile, Gaza's local administration warned people not to approach bombed buildings or to go near Fighter bases for fear of explosive objects.
Refugees here in the courtyard ofAl-Shifaseem sad now. They want to visit their homes during the ceasefire, but they are not allowed by local administration. The blockade on Gaza has made life more difficult for all civilians of Gaza. Even in recent wars many wanted to leave but they couldn't because there is no observer on Rafah border. It’s a shame the international community has not yet stood against this injustice, people are waiting, helpless, longing for death. Everyone ignores us; we remain imprisoned inside and even outside the Strip.
The rest of the world is being lied to. The western media is misleading everyone, and the western governments are at the forefront. One of the lies being told, that we know of, concerns Hamas. What is Hamas? The question is on many minds today.The Western and American media designates Hamas as a terrorist entity. But we live here, we live with Hamas. We know they are not terrorists. Hamas is a pure political party who was democratically elected. It was founded in 1987 during the first intifada, at the request of western powers. Since 1987 Hamas has lived in the hearts of Palestinians because they fight against our occupation. We love them, we know they are not terrorists; they are peace loving people, mostly made up of young men who have lived their whole lives under occupation. I and many of my friends are Hamas supporters. Hamas has held authority in Gaza since 2007 and we are happy under their protection. They have never used us as human shields. Hamas are our protectors and they sacrifice their lives for us, for the Land of Palestine, for Gaza.
They are not our enemy, they are our guardians. Young men, young women, passionate, brave, they give their blood for our safety. Israel is our enemy, they attack us, drive us from our land with bombs, soldiers threatening our children. They place us under siege since 2007, and for nearly 70 years they drive us from our land. They closed all our borders. All five crossings points are closed by Israel and Egypt. They close Karni crossing point, which damaged the economy badly because the majority of goods enter in Gaza through this crossing. Rafah, the only Border which is not governed and run by Israel is closed by Egypt. We are in an open air prison; one side is closed by Israel, the other by Egypt. We are not allowed to go to the West Bank, another part of our country. We are not allowed to go abroad, even for humanitarian and medical treatment.
Since 2007 we have faced heavy shortage of our daily needs. Most of Gaza's trade depends on Israel or via Israeli borders. But since 2007 Israel banned all movements from its borders. Our industry relies on raw material that we import from the outer world, but with the imposition of the illegal siege we can't import them and this causes our industry to decline. We are in a prison and the world knows nothing, or they have no time for us. 1.8 million People live their lives under siege and no one seems to care. Israel tries every way they know to bring Gaza's population to our knees but we never submit. Impose every restriction, impose everything you want to impose but we will never surrender. Surrender means legalization and acceptance of aggression, and we are not going to be party in legalization of oppression.
I see many people around me are happy for this truce, but to me a ceasefire, it’s really only a pause, one of Israel's methods of prolonging the terror. Fear is a useful tool for those who desire power. Ceasefire without a permanent lift of the siege is no true ceasefire at all. This only means that they are willing to stop shooting at us for 12 hours but their war against us continues in many other ways. They control our imports and exports, our economy, even place us on diets through regulating food and resources. No, Ceasefire, for me, means they need time to restock for the next assault.
The 'ceasefire' has started now. I have leftAl-Shifa court yard in order to look for my father. Everywhere I look there is destruction in Gaza; almost every other building is turned into rubble. There is a man carrying a child's dead body, not a whole body, just pieces of meat.
He's crying. I pass silently. I have no words, what can I do for him? This is every Gazan’s life, we are under attack. It seems the International Community has given them a license to kill. I am amazed when I see American politicians and UK ministers defending Israel on TV. It’s a shame; they close their eyes from the truth. They hide the truth of the Palestinians, of Gaza and of all Palestine, our history; everything we are and have been is hidden behind blatant and bold faced lies. There is an old saying that says 'when you continuously speak a lie, in time you will begin to believe it as truth'. It appears that these lies have become truth for the majority of the world.
There is no electricity in Gaza now. Try and imagine, in the intense heat of summer, spending the month of Ramadan without water or food, out in the open, and under continuous threat of bombs or tank shells or snipers. I am just a young girl, here Muslim girls are supposed to be in their homes under protection of their families, their fathers, their husbands. But sadly, today, we are on the streets, alone, in search of our fathers, our families. Just for a second try and imagine me, us, not as Muslims or Palestinians, or anything but Human. Imagine I am you; imagine your mother was in a hospital with your little brother. Imagine you were standing for hours in long lines, every day, just for a piece of rotten bread. Imagine your father was missing and you were walking the road looking for him alone, nothing to eat for two days. Your shoes are worn and broken from walking for hours with the constant threat of drones circling above your head, watching you, while you wonder if they consider you a worthy target. I wonder if you were able to imagine yourself, just for five minutes, in my place, in our place, if you would realize why Palestinians fire rockets over the walls that that were built to keep us in.
I can't explain why they kill our children, imprison our fathers and brothers, and rape our women. And I know the world would never believe us anyway. I know that Israel controls most of the world's media. They spew lies about us on the TV, the radios, and internet news sites, calling us Terrorists and world believes their every word.
Now I am in a residential area, there are a few children playing with unexploded Israeli tank shells. They are too young to know that sometimes, even after several hours or days, these shells can still explode. The war here never really ends, even during lasting ceasefires. The death and destruction being inflicted on the Gaza Strip is impossible to describe. Even being here, sitting and looking around, it is hard to understand how or why this is happening. The world is Sleeping and Gaza Bleeding.
I keep walking. As I come to the Market I see it is full of people, they want to buy and store all their basic needs during the truce. Women and children, old and young, all are busy buying and hoping. They know that three days from today is Eid. Desperately they want to prepare for celebration; they hope that this Eid they can have the chance to be thankful. I have no money to buy anything so I keep walking. As I pass through the busy market I think of what our Eid will be like, sharing in their hope'. Suddenly I hear an explosion behind me. It shakes the buildings and brings me to my knees. I run towards a shop, along with many others. Another explosion goes off. Hundreds of women and children. I hear their screams. I can’t explain the horrifying scene, I don't want to. Another explosion, more screams, people screaming in pain. Israel has broken the ceasefire. The market, of all places, they know that we are busy stocking up, preparing for the next assault, how can they be so heartless? Today I am not trembling though, today I am ready for death, and I don't want to live in this world anymore. But yet again death has cheated me; it has left me here to suffer.
At least three air strikes, or artillery rounds, I can't tell which, hit the market, which is a collection of warehouses, a market, shops and homes. In the back of the shop there is a window, from here I can see outside. Many people are flooding the streets to help the injured, despite exposing themselves to the possibility of more shelling or bombing. But there is another problem now. A fire has started in one of the shops, its spreading fast throughout the market. I want to close my eyes, turn my head from this horrible scene. As the first shell hit, people immediately started evacuating the wounded. So many people shopping here, there are bodies everywhere, some dying, and some dead. Another blatant massacre, they have no mercy, no morality. How can there be any doubt, Israel is committing deliberate acts of mass murder... the blood of innocent people in Gaza is all over their hands. But let it not be in vain, the hand of justice will reach to all who are responsible for this.
Hamas fired rockets today, over the wall, and into parts of Israel. Heavy bombing and shelling have started again. I want to leave but going out means death. I know I am not any safer inside though, so finally I decide to leave. I peek outside for a minute, then after building some courage I run outside, I rush out and start running, I don’t know how many people along the road side are injured or how many are dead, but I run and run as fast as I can. I run towardsAl-Shifa.After running half an hour I reach a house, I don’t know who the owner of this house is but I knock anyway, the door opens and a little girl greets me. I ask for water and an old lady comes outside, she grabs me and holds me, after a moment she lets me inside. They are kind people inside this home, the whole family hugs me and they give me water and bread to eat, my eyes fill of tears, my breath heavy and out of control, my heart beating as fast as I have ever felt. But I still alive. Death has cheated me again.
The violence in the Gaza Strip enters into its fourth week and the civilian death toll mounts. There have been repeated calls for a cessation of hostilities and investigations into possible war crimes. I am a witness; Israel has used white phosphorus bombs, smokescreens which are prohibited, a clear violation of international law. Now the Question arises, who will speak against Israel from the International Community? I am one hundred percent sure that Israel’s actions violate international law and serious crimes against humanity.
Israel used white phosphorous smoke in Shejaiyah. It isInternational obligation on the part of soldiers in their position to protect civilians, not to kill civilians indiscriminately in the first place and when they do to make sure that they help the wounded. In this particular case innocent civilians of Shejaiyah were helpless and the Israeli forces were close by as Shejaiyah was at the border of Gaza and Israel…… I know Israel rejects this action, but for the sake of humanity and implementation of international law the world should stand up and start investigations into these crimes. Since the beginning of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza on the 8th of July there have been numerous media reports, supported by photographic evidence, about the possible uses of white phosphorous, dime ammunition and Fletcher bombs, all of which are considered chemical weapons and or Banned weapons of mass destruction.
Today is Eid in Gaza. I am celebrating Eid with memories of my home and my father, my mother in the hospital. As I sit in the lawn of a hospital, no new cloths, no food, not water, no friends. We are displaced, homeless, we are Palestinians and it’s our fault, at least that's what they say. But despite the weather it is pleasant today, no clouds cover the sky, my brother and I sit in the lawn ofAl-shifa,a cup of tea in my hand. Many children are playing around us, families busy with each other all around me, two women busily talking with each other, all seems calm.
Just now the ground shakes, a bomb or a shell, we look around to see where it hit. It was the playground, there were dozens of children were playing, but now there is blood everywhere. I hold my brother. Two children, we can see, were blown to pieces and another child with an injury on his head. Shifa hospital has been housing hundreds of causalities and displaced families, and Gaza's main medical centre was bombed just a few minutes before in front of my eyes, dozens of displaced families were killed in seconds. Most of the casualties here are, overwhelmingly, civilians. It's a horrendous scene; people are screaming and wailing, they are absolutely terrified. The hospital was already having issues with the lack of materials to deal with the people coming in. Three patients and a nurse were also killed in the explosion and dozen other in the park ofAl-shifa,mostly civilians, children.
We are already in mourning as we see so many ambulances rush to the Hospital gates. We come to know that Israel has hit another park on the beach ofAl-Shati refugee camp where children were playing. "They were playing on a swing when the strike hit," an old man tells me. "A rocket fell and cut them apart," another lady tells me. When they bring the injured and the dead in to the hospital I see them and suddenly I realize, I know some of them. They were from theAl-Heloufamily, who left their homes in Shejaiyah, my area, where massive artillery fire destroyed civilian’s structures. They came here take shelter inAl-Shatirefugee camp but death chased them even here. These are chaotic scenes as a number of small bodies are brought into the hospital. Many here believed that because it's been relatively calm, they would be safe out in the open; many of these children went outside to enjoy themselves on this Eid holiday. But even now, during our Holy day, our day of celebration, we are still under attack.
These children are displaced with their families; they sought refuge in public parks and buildings in Gaza City. The children wore colorful clothes and bought games. But jet bombings in the afternoon destroyed all our Eid traditions, which were already few in light of the war. All those who were looking for some joy were forced to seek shelter. I couldn’t stop myself from visiting the location where these flowers were killed. When I reached it I saw a few houses were in mourning, families were receiving the dead bodies of their children, in tears and consoling hugs. Israel bombed a small shop where children were spending some of their money on sweets and games.
I met a young boy of 19, his brother of 12, Youssef, was among those killed, he tells me, “My brother was standing in front of shop with the other children buying chips and playing, when planes bombed the street and killed them all.” Close to him his cousin was standing wearing a shirt with bloodstains. He said, “First, there was a rocket from a reconnaissance aircraft, then a missile from a warplane came a few seconds later, killing the shop owner and the children and causing dozens of injuries. The facades of the houses near the narrow Ahrar Street in Shati camp are riddled with holes from shrapnel. The green tree leaves on the ground mix with the children’s blood. This bombing coincided with a raid on the external gate of Shifa Hospital, specifically at the outpatient building, which spread panic among hundreds of children who have taken refuge at the hospital after their homes were destroyed in the Shejaiyah neighbourhood in eastern of Gaza City.
The first night of Eidal-Fitr,up until dawn on July 29, were some of the most terrifying nights, in every sense of the word. Gaza’s population barely slept amid the shelling. Tanks, warships, Apache helicopters, reconnaissance planes andF-16jets turned Gaza into a graveyard, there were many deaths. Now I don’t know what world needs, to prosecute Israel as a war criminal, they hit parks, they hit hospitals, they hit during ceasefire time they hit with white phosphorous smoke, and all kinds of weapons. We are a civilian population, not a military might. What will it take for these criminals to be brought to justice?
In Gaza Israel deliberately attacks children.There is a saying in Gaza that goes, "If you want to stay alive, stay away from children". More than half of our population is children. There was a4-year-oldgirl inAl-Shifahospital, she was inconsolably sobbing, longing for her mother and her siblings. They all died as they were fleeing their homes in search of a safer place, only she and her father survived. How do you tell a4-year-oldthat most of her family is dead? More than half of the 15 to 18 year olds in Gaza show signs of full or partialpost-traumaticstress disorder after seeing their friends, their family, and their neighbors killed. We are no different than any other people, just People, civilians. The children in Gaza are exposed to a lifetime of war and violence. Children right now, who are 10 years old, have been through Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, the invasion in 2012 and now the invasion and devastation of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, in addition to the siege and the blockade, the sanctions and the overall degradation. Even before Cast Lead, 80 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza had witnessed some sort of violence, a friend or a family member, or a neighbor. Now we're getting to the point where nearly the entire population of Gaza has been exposed to at least some kind of bloodshed, murder, assault. We just want what everyone else wants, freedom… an end to the violence.
We can fix a broken bone, but when it comes to rebuilding someone’s heart, their psyche, their conscience, we are lost. This 'war' is creating even more psychological damage; this will be with us for the rest of our lives. How are we expected to remain sane? It is possible to be successful in school, to have relationships with friends and family. It is a struggle just to care for ourselves under these impossible circumstances. It’s a disaster. When I grow up, I want to end War and suffering. Maybe this is what these circumstances are good for, creating people who dream big.
Night has fallen inAl-Shifacourtyard. It is scary with no electricity, no light, other than the flares and the blinking lights of drones and F16's. There's not much food for the refugees, or water, no facilities, restrooms or baths, no place for a girl or a woman to attend to our female needs. We can’t sleep at night, the bombs never stop. Maybe 10 minutes, sometimes 20, but the roar of F16's, the constant buzzing of drones, gun fire, they never stop. It is 11 pm; I am sitting with a family of Khan Younis. They left their homes after Israel dropped leaflets telling them to evacuate. On the way here, the Israeli army attacked many groups of civilians, by navy boats and soldiers, they lost their eight year old son and their 5 year daughter was injured, she was lying next to me, the face of innocence, she was injured badly. I ask them how she got the injury, the mother tells me it was when they were trying to escape the Israeli artillery; they don't know from where the attack came, they just hid under a building that was partially constructed. Israel hit the building and they were buried under the roof, a few of the local people came to dig them out but in the process they lost their son, and their daughter was badly injured in the stomach due to fallen bricks and rubble. They offer me tea. Her kindness overwhelms me. I decline. My mind races, how can a woman who has so recently lost so much be so generous to offer me anything? I don’t know who will die first, her, her badly injured daughter or me. Our fate runs the same line. We all are passing through this time together. I don’t tell her about me and about my family, this is a burden she does not need. I feel ashamed. She, a mother of a martyr, suffering, is having given so much, yet still willing to offer more. She won this battle, and I am still fighting.
I salute the mothers of Palestine who sacrifice their children and still stand strong. It is this woman and the mothers of our land that truly expose the real face of Israel, Zionism, and the terrorist state that it is to the world. She is talkative, dressed in black, veiled, and covered with her Hijjab. She left school at 10 and seven years later she was married. She tells me that before the blockade, her husband used to make good money working in Israel but after the siege started in Gaza, that all stopped. Now, when he can't find any work and they have nothing to eat, he blames her. He becomes a crazed animal. She said she stays quiet when he hits her.
When Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and Israel tightened its siege of the territory, many men of Gaza became jobless overnight and in many cases it has been the women who have ended up bearing the brunt of their husband's frustration. Besides sticking to their traditional role of raising children, the blockade has compelled large numbers of women to become the breadwinners, while still trying to stand by their husbands in a place where men are the traditional providers. The economic depression in Gaza has led to a psychological depression for many men who find themselves unable to provide.
I don't think people throughout the world realize what has happened here, that we, one and a half million Palestinians, have been almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. The blockage turns our city, our country into an open air prison. We are not allowed to leave unless we hold Egyptian or another Nationality. Israel has built a fifty foot wall around Gaza and placed armed guards at every entrance and exit, an ocean on one side, walls on the other three, they destroyed our seaport and we aren't allowed to fish in our own waters because Israeli warships are on constant patrol. Israel destroyed our airport after the siege began. We are trapped like fish in a bowl.
Thousands of men are without a jobs, the unemployment rate in Gaza is one of the highest rates in the world, and even some of us who are lucky enough to be employed are denied a wage, as has been the case with medical workers, doctors, nurses, emergency workers, a lot of them keep their jobs because of the necessity, but give their labour for free. Unemployment, fear of war and international, Israeli, sanctions. Every woman in Gaza is under tremendous pressure to stand by her man, to support him, it is our tradition, our way of life, but many doors have been closed to Palestinian women in Gaza. It's like getting out of one prison only to walk into another. There are many obstacles. Whole families, thousands of people who have been forced to flee their homes are facing extreme difficulty in feeding themselves and their children. The very act of searching for food has become a dangerous task. We survived the first days on supplies we had stored for Ramadhan, but now since we were forced to leave our homes we are almost completely dependent on help from charity organizations. Many of us have no option but to stand in line for hours just to survive.
31st of July, Israel and Hamas agreed on another conditional ceasefire. It's good news for the people of
Gaza and even for me this time, it gives time to restock, and it gives me time to look for my father. I am sitting close with my mother in her bed inAl-Shifahospital. She seems a little better today. I tell her about the ceasefire and about my plans to find father. My brother insists to go along with me, but I refuse, I ask him to stay with mom in the Hospital, tell him to take care of her. Israel announced a ceasefire, but that doesn't mean I trust them. They have yet to prove themselves to me. In the end my mother and my brother both agreed on my decision.
8 O'clock A.M. As I leaveAl-Shifafor Shejaiyah, I think about my plan. Search the streets in my hometown, at my house, and along the way. There is a truck of International activists going to inspect my area, I tell them I am from this area, that I wish to go with them and they allow me to ride along. It is a long ride. I spend it mostly in silence. It is around 1 A.M. when I finally reached the door of my home. The strange, beautiful dog is still with me. For the last 10 days he has followed me everywhere. After our first meeting on that dark deadly night, in that lonely silent street of Shejaiyah, he has stayed by my side. He is my friend now, and a witness, with me, of the genocide that happened that night and nearly every night since.
The streets are empty. Shejaiyah looks like a ghost town. Holes in the walls of buildings and houses from artillery shells and bombs, blood stains the streets and the rubble, a dead donkey in the middle of street, even animals are not safe from Israel's aggression.My house
is completely destroyed. My memories are buried under rubble. I stand in the lawn of my destroyed house; my mind is blank, the poor brave dog still standing by my side. Pin drop silence. The sky is blue, clear, only a small white cloud in the distance. The swing is still standing. I walk over to it and sit on 'my' side of the swing. I take in the silence, a gust of wind, some kind of animal in the rubble of my neighbor’s house, a little bird circling above my head, chirping and whistling it sounds as if it's singing a song, telling a story, my story. As I watch, the little bird flies down, and sits directly beside me, on my 'brothers' swing.
I look at the bird and it looks back at me. I feel like we are connected. We're not strangers, we know each other, we have met before, I am sure of it….…. 'I was standing on the roof one pleasant morning, as the sun appeared over the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. I saw a fisherman throw his net into the sea, just off the coast, with the hope of catching a big fish I'm sure. Yes, I am sure she saw me. And in my lawn, when I ran after my brother, without my covering, my hair flowing in the wind, she was there. And when I came across a folk singer in a small grove of olive trees. He was singing a song for his love that left him on the beach ofAl-Shatirefugee camp; the little bird was there too, singing along.' "We have met many times before, haven't we?" I said. "Little bird, give me a favor, you are not under siege, but you are a witness of the sadness and the terror that we endure at the hands of the Zionists. Israel can't stop you with their illegal walls; you can fly over the walls, around the closed borders.
Please little bird, fly for me, fly for our friends, fly over the olive trees, over the deserts, over the tanks, the war ships and jets. Fly into Israel and tell everyone there that there is a girl, she is standing in front of her destroyed house in Shejaiyah, and her only companion a poor stray dog. She misses her father, she has a nine year old brother who has lived his whole life in fear, she has a pregnant, sick mother in the hospital, she is homeless, nothing to eat, no school to go to, no friends to play with, and her whole town has been destroyed. Tell them that all she wants is to live in peace, to be free. Tell them she doesn’t want to live like this, that she doesn't want to die like this. Tell them she has ambitions, desires, and hopes. Go little bird, go please…..Tell them of our miseries, tell them we are human too." I don't want to leave, I want to stay. But I have to go, I must return toAl-Shifa,to my mother and my brother. "Goodbye little bird, my only living friend in Shejaiyah."
The Israelis forces continue to violate international law motivated by the failure of the International community to stand for the principles and rules itself had set. In particular, there is much evidence indicating the perpetration of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War. With advanced technology for surveillance and sophisticated weapons, the Israeli defence forces bear the responsibility to distinguish between civilian andnon-civiliantargets. Facts on the ground show the opposite: guided missiles and bombs have been fired deliberately at civilian targets including homes, civilian shelters and ambulances. Aircraft, tanks, artillery shelling, and naval vessels have been used in attacks on civilian targets, public infrastructure and border areas. And the direct targeting of civilians and civilian objects is a war crime, everyone knows by now.
The situation in Gaza keeps getting worse. We have no electricity, no food, no water and no medicine for what's left of the hospitals and clinics. For most families fire is the only source of light, apart from mobile phones and some candles. And yet despite these dire living conditions we refuse to leave what remains of their homes. We have nowhere to go and no money to get there even if there was somewhere.
From 8thof July to up till now according to OCHA,Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( United Nations)17,000 homes have been either destroyed or severely damaged, which leaves approximately 108,000 people homeless. During ceasefires families scour the rubble for the remains of their lives, often searching in vain for the valuables they had to leave behind. The level of devastation is overwhelming, and the full rehabilitation of the area will take years if not decades. The Palestinians are simply not equipped to efficiently counter this overwhelming level of destruction.
I met a family in the courtyard ofAl-Shifa.The head of this family, Safyan, recalled to me the horrific night when they were forced to flee. He was in the bathroom when his mobile phone rang. His son answered the call from the IDF, they had sent a warning that they would bomb the adjacent building and it instructed them to evacuate immediately and not to return before the end of the war. Initial confusion, when he heard people shouting, gave way to panic and Safyan had just enough time to grab his children and run out of the house wearing only his shorts. Just 10 minutes later their neighbor’s house was reduced to rubble by an airstrike, killing an 80 year old woman, Hijazia Helou, who had refused to leave. During one ceasefire the men ventured back to check on their house but as soon as they arrived they were driven away as Israel broke the ceasefire and the bombing resumed. I witnessed an young man of 20, Mahmoud Noman, standing in the rubble of his house, he said he will be in his forties before his life returns to the way it used to be before this 'war'. I can’t believe it, I don't want to. In just days Israel destroyed shops and homes that will now take 20 years or more to rebuild. I visited a market that was attacked a few days back. The remains of the market, toothpaste bottles, babies diapers, pieces of gum and smashed cans of cola, are strewn across the roads. The goods of these shops will cost more than $500,000 to replace.
Refugees in Gaza are helpless. At night, men sleep in the playground ofAl-shifa,while women and children are crammed inside a room, packed with others like sardines in a can. Before this, most of them were fairly well off, but now they have no option but to rely on hand outs, canned goods and other food and aid items. The destruction from this 'war' will take years to clean up and decades to rebuild, that is if Israel open the borders and allow us to bring in materials. We've had enough, we are tired, tired of losing our families, our relatives, our friends and neighbors. Our homes have been turned into dust and rubble. Do our lives not matter?
Another family is living with me here, I often talk with the ladies of this family, and they fled from Jabaliya. The husband of one of these ladies had been living in Cairo for more than 10 years and working as a taxi driver which gave him enough money to feed his wife and four children. Then, he decided to return to Gaza. In Gaza, she said, they found freedom to express their views, but they have not found stability, or security. Yet despite the knowledge that it could be 20 years before they could rebuild their home they still don't want to leave. This lady is very intelligent, she says, “I feel something fishy the moment ceasefire is announced, I ask myself, why would Israel hold to any ceasefire, they are not fighting an army or waging a war against combatants, this is genocide and they know it."
The International community must ensure that Gaza is not forced to live in this state; we live in anopen-air prison. Palestinians must be allowed to import and export goods freely, enter and exit freely, travel to and from the West Bank freely and are given the right to open and operate an airport and seaport. Without ensuring these basic rights, the international community will be sending a message to Israel that it is allowed to continue its brutal, illegal blockade without impunity.
Now we are living as a family in the lawn ofAl-Shifa.I have made many friends, one of my new friends, Yasmeen, and her family is from Khan Younis. We eat together and sleep together. She is a sweet girl, my age, and at nights we sit and talk a lot. We live in constant fear of Israeli bombing. Her cousin was killed as he tried to go out to buy bread. She and her family are in great fear; there is no safe place for us.
When I was a kid I loved to watch Hollywood action films. In those movies when the enemy uses a civilian as a human shield, the policeman drops his gun and lets the enemy go in order to save the civilian. The innocent person’s life is always depicted as more important than the enemy’s death. But maybe these morals are only for movies. The morals on the ground in Gaza are completely different. Israel shoots and bombs children and young people, leaving them to bleed to death in front of their parents, while they bombard ambulances that try to reach them. I use this as an example because Israel shamelessly defends its actions, their shameless murdering of innocents. They tell the world that Hamas and the people of Gaza use our own children as shields. But no one here does this, why would anyone use their own children as human shields. Hamas and resistances members use open ground or deserts to fire their rockets and to fight the soldiers. I stand with resistance because they are fighting for us, to protect us, because of our oppression. They are better than Israelis; they fight against tanks, jets, warships and troops, while Israel fights against innocent children and women. In this horrendous aggression against Gaza, every Palestinian is a target and age isn’t an issue.
As I hold my brother close to my chest, I recall the scenes of babies inAl-Shifa,children his age, with face injuries, that hide their beauty and innocence, and others dead with amputated limbs, heads emptied from their contents, or burnt bodies. As I squeeze his little defenseless body between my arms, I hear the voice of a father who was screaming in the UN school, “I found the leg of my son coming out of the wreckage!” I recall the voice of a man carrying the parts of his son’s body in a plastic bag, a child that he raised and cherished. He had been turned, in a blink of an eye, into a pile of flesh. He had been gathered from under the rubble of a bombed out building. The 'most moral army in the world', the IDF, the army that justifies their killing, by saying, “mistakes happen”, or civilian deaths are 'unavoidable'.
Today I met a family from Khuza'a, a southern Gaza town. A girl, who quickly becomes my friend, told me that Zionists had killed many civilians as they tried to leave their homes in Khuza'a. She described to me that when they were leaving the only men with them were their fathers, brothers and children. "We thought we saw resistance next to the house, and we shouted at them to stop fighting and move away, but then we saw that they were Israeli Special Forces, we made white flags and started walking. We took random back roads and alleys to avoid soldiers and tanks, but they were everywhere. She said they walked through lots of alleys to get to the western end of town, counting on an ambulance to be there. "We were getting close, but then we saw another group of people ahead of us, coming under attack. I don’t know where the shelling came from, but people were saying, “There’s no ceasefire, it’s a trap!” So we turned back. We went to a neighbour’s basement." Following a night of heavy shelling, after dawn on July 25 an Israeli munitions hit the house where the group was taking refuge, she said, without warning. The strike killed three civilians including a baby of two years.
She said, "It was a shock, the blast, it knocked the breath out of me. I had no time to say the [prayer for the dying]. I don’t know why they hit the house, it was random. There was no resistance there, just us. We realized people had been killed, and everyone focused on getting out of the building 'grab your children and run before the roof caves in'. A nearby house was not as badly damaged, so we went there. My elder sister worked as a nurse, so she started giving first aid." Such great dangers people faced in trying to flee their town, near the Israeli border, to seek safety. These included; repeated shelling that struck civilian structures, lack of access to necessary medical care, and the threat of attack from Israeli forces as they tried to leave the area. Khuza’a, which has a population of about 10,000, was the scene of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during an Israeli ground offensive in the area on July 23.
On the 5th of August Israel Defence Forces troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip.
Its 5.00 pm here, the courtyard ofAl-Shifais full of refugees. The only water tab in the middle of court yard is full of people, water buckets in their hands. The weather is good now, a bit hot, but in the shade of the trees it doesn't feel too bad. July 29th was the heaviest day of bombardment in the conflict so far. On this day Israel bombed the only power plant of Gaza and killed more than 109 people. In one strike, in the northern refugee camp of Jabaliya, 10 members of one family were killed and 50 people were wounded in tank shelling. At least 36 of the 100 people killed were hit by airstrikes, and tank shelling on five homes. The shutdown of the power station has left most of the 1.7 million people living in the narrow territory without power. Water has also been affected, since electricity is needed to operate pumps. The authorities have addressed us and we have been told that they will need 20 years to rebuild the power plant.
Within the last six years Israel waged three wars on Gaza. In 2008 and 2012, Israel launched operations “Cast lead” and “Pillar of Defence” to destroy Hamas and other groups in Gaza. In the two wars 1,467 Palestinians and 16 Israelis lost their lives. As Israel and Hamas inches towards a truce it may not be preposterous to ask, when is the nextIsrael-Gazawar? Israel is fighting war of attrition against Palestinians to protect and consolidate its colonial gains. They have created a settler colony using biblical injunctions to steal Palestinian land. According to the UN, “bombs have pounded 133 schools and 22 health centers, stadiums, playground, mosques, roads, power and water
supplies, phone towers, communication centers and government buildings.” Over 100,000 people have lost their homes, over 20, 000 houses destroyed and 230 schools damaged. Gaza's main water supply and wastewater infrastructure were all knocked out. Water shortages are nothing new for Palestinians in the densely populated Gaza Strip enclave, and more and more people have been digging their own wells since 2006. Since then more than 10,000 wells have been dug. It is also important that 95 percent of Gaza's water is already contaminated. During the Israeli bombardment, water pipes were also hit and destroyed. We need 7 to 8 billion dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza.Ariel Sharon ended Gaza’s occupation in 2005 but quickly imposed land, sea and air blockade. Gaza is internationally referred to asopen-air prison of 1.7 million inmates. For seven years Israel has refused to lift the siege citing security concerns. Egypt also helped to perpetuate the siege of Gaza by blocking the Rafah crossing. Blockade is an act of war and therefore Gaza has the right to fight it, as it is currently doing.
Contrary to the Geneva Convention, the siege of Gaza is a deliberate collective punishment. It has pauperized the strip. Over 60% of Gazans go on food ration from the UN. The strip can neither export its produce nor its citizen’s travel without hindrance. Israel naval blockade has underdeveloped the fishing industry. Palestinian airport was destroyed by Israel. The power plant in Gaza runs at 45% capacity because of the limited fuel allowed by Israel. Gaza hospitals are in critical shortage of drugs/disposables and the critically ill cannot travel out. Gazans are forced to smuggle drugs and their basic needs through tunnels from Egypt. Then came the July 8th war which Israelcode-namedoperation “protective Edge”. Though Israel claimed its mission was to destroy rocket site and tunnels the targets as expected were Schools, UN buildings, public buildings, hospitals and residential areas.
Gaza is the hub of Palestinian struggle for statehood. As the West Bank and East Jerusalem seem to have conceded to occupation, Gaza is saying no to Israel’s siege and colonization. The massive destruction, death and injuries inflicted by Israel on Gazans are 'calculated', in attempt to defeat the struggle, demoralize and break the resistance. During the 2012 ceasefire negotiations, Israel promised to allow the entry of some materials for reconstruction. However we see no cement, gravel or steel has passed through the border crossings linking Gaza to Israel. The recent assault, from July 8 to today is the third in six years.
On August 5 Hamas and Israel agreed on another three-dayceasefire. Gaza has turned in to rubble now. In recent attacks Israel destroyed the Islamic University. Israeli aggression has now nearly destroyed the complete education system in Gaza, no schools are left, no university. Parents are under tremendous fear to send their kids in educational institutes. At least 231 schools have been damaged during the Israeli offensive, while approximately 380,000 Palestinians in Gaza are currently seeking shelter at UN orgovernment-runschools. Teachers need a vacation each year so that they can teach well... This year, their trip was with death and destruction. Young students have struggled under Israeli bombardment, they did not enjoy their summer holiday, and it did not feel like a holiday. How are our young students going to return in the same schools where now they are living as refuges with thousands of others peoples?
During the recentthree-dayceasefire, one of my refugee friends, Shehada, went to his neighborhood of Tofah, in east Gaza City, to console his friend, Ziad, who lost several members of his family in an air strike on their home. Among them was Ziad's brother. Now, imagine how our students feel, and how they are in stress. Tell me, is it a free study environment for students, how do they compete with the world in this situation.
• In Israel's last major military offensive in Gaza in November 2012, the United Nations' agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) found that the PTSD (Post-traumaticstress disorder) rate rose by 100 percent, and that 42 percent of patients were under the age of nine. UNICEF also reported that 91 percent of children surveyed in Gaza had trouble sleeping, 85 percent couldn't concentrate, and 82 percent reported feelings of anger and symptoms of mental strain. After the 2012 attack on Gaza, the first week of school will likely be a week of painful memories and grief for both students and teachers. My brother math teacher, lost a nephew in the Israeli attacks, he was also struggling psychologically, as he recalled seeing a badly injured man carrying his dead daughter between his arms and bleeding on the ground on the night of July 20, when my family and thousands of others fled from Shejaiyah. I met him in hospital in cease fire he tells me that he can’t forget the face of that man “I ask myself: 'What if he was someone I know? What If I was in his position?' he could not stop to evacuate the man "because they were running and shells were falling behind us".
How are our teachers able to teach when their situation is so bad that the ministry of education planned to institute sessions with psychologists to support local teachers during their first week back to school, and that it intended to institute similar program for children. Even ministry faces hard choices concerning the evacuees who have lost their homes and currently live in shelters at these schools. How they drive out any family that lost its home. Transforming of schools into shelters is painful. Schools are known for education. They are the cornerstone of the society. But turning them into shelters with insufficient water supplies and a lack of privacy humiliates people. After cease fire on 5th August Israeli forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip and declared a 500meter-wide'no go zone' on the Gaza side of the border. Over 27 per cent of Palestinian fatalities since the start of the emergency are believed to be those whose bodies could not be identified or their status determined. On 8 August the number Casualties in Gaza exceed then number of the previous two conflicts in Gaza combined, in2008–2009and in 2012. From initial assessments, 3000 structures have been completely destroyed and 30,000 damaged.
Today is acease-fire,so we can sleep well, but during the attacks, we abandon the idea of sleeping regularly, the continuous air strikes and shelling make it impossible. Lying in a refuge with many other sad and hungry refugees and when you have children around you the risk of bombing because children seem to be the main targets. But sometimes at night I wake up and think that my Shejaiyah, my home town, was completely destroyed, and even the Mosque near my house where my father and my brother go for prayers and the University I studied at has been hit - destroyed by attacks in the night. I had spent my whole life in Shejaiyah and 3 years at University of Gaza as a student. When I learned the news I was overcome with grief - it felt as if my life was being eliminated, my most cherished memories systematically destroyed.
In a place as small as Gaza - less than half the size of New York City - nowhere is safe. Since Gaza’s only power station was destroyed, we have been plunged into darkness. The lucky ones were getting electricity for one or two hours a day, but in recent days even that has disappeared. Rich families have diesel generator that they occasionally turn on to check the news but it is expensive and fuel is sparse. In the Court yard ofAl-shifapeople often sit together and listen local radio news. Every report brings with it new tragedies, civilians killed by attackers they never even saw. The more we listen, the angrier we feel that the world is just watching as we are dying. In the end, I get up from the radio.
In the refugee camp where we live we are low on even basic supplies. The72-hourceasefire has helped ease the situation somewhat, but even now every day is a battle to get what we need to survive - drinking water and food. In Court Yard where we live, the water stopped flowing days ago and the sewage is overflowing. To get undrinkable water for washing and cleaning, administration calls to a private company to come fill our tank. In recent days, even this has dried up - the destruction to the water infrastructure is such that even private companies have nothing to sell. Instead we are using the “grey water’ concept of reusing wastewater to flush the toilets. The few times I have risked going outside during the attacks, the scenes I have seen have become etched into my memory. Children rushing around, risking their lives carrying empty bottles to get water, others standing in long queues to get bread; it is too painful to think about.
We are reaching the end of the ceasefire, but it is not yet clear what happens next. We have stocked up our resources, preparing for the next round. We have enough
drinking water for 10 days and stocked up on tinned cans, while I saw administration here bought some meat and vegetables for refuges but they won’t last long - more than a day or so - without electricity. If the bread goes stale they wet it and serve in refuges its Gaza and we have no choice but to eat because we are under attack. I know many Palestinians who live in other countries are sad. We have paid a high cost in lives in this conflict. But if that’s the price forlong-termchanges – breaking the siege and obtaining freedom – it’s one many of us feel we have no choice but to swallow. Otherwise, we would merely be replacing the quick death of an airstrike with the slow death of the blockade. Instead of believing that Israel is just a criminal state for targeting civilians, the tactic should be seen broadly as part of a defined political, economic and social strategy. Disregarding the moral and humanitarian debate is helpful to see beyond the undoubted atrocities against civilians, which are expected to reoccur in the future. This conflict has taken an unacceptable toll on the civilian population. We have called for the killing and the destruction to stop in the name of humanity. Protecting civilians must be the overriding concern. The parties to the conflict have obligations under the laws of war. I witnessed serious discrepancies between those obligations and the reality on the ground.
In Gaza, more than 1,500 people were killed and some 10,000 wounded in recent days of intense hostilities. At least 400,000 people were displaced and more than
9,000 homes rendered uninhabitable. The human cost of the conflict has left many stunned around the world my heart go out to the people who are most vulnerable – children, the elderly, the sick and the wounded – for it is they who have paid the highest price. International humanitarian law is meant to strike a balance between military necessity and humanitarian considerations having seen the destruction on the ground and met the victims of the hostilities, I can affirmfirst-handthat this balance has not been respected. The international Community should try to bring Israel to abide by that law and also the international community take all possible measures to ensure that Israel do so. Now I think it’s time that the International community brings Israel on the table for dialogues immediately for the future humanitarian needs of those most severely affected. The Israel and the International community bear the collective responsibility of creating an environment conducive to sustainable humanitarian efforts in Gaza. The past cannot be allowed to repeat itself. I know many international organization are working in Gaza for humans I admire their work and I am thankful to them for their solidarity with us and I know they are committed to helping decimated communities recover, but that recovery requires tangible changes: improvements for Gazans in accordance with international humanitarian law, and greater respect for humanitarian work and workers under all circumstances.
On 8 Aug. Israel resumed air strikes, a Friday, in the morning. They rejected any extension of the truce.
Hamas says Israel had failed to meet its demands. A key demand is the lifting of the blockade of Gaza. The Palestinian group said any peace proposal must include a demand for Israel to end the blockade on Gaza, imposed since eight years. Thousands of Palestinians were fleeing their homes east of Gaza City in fear of Israeli attacks. Today Israeli aircraft have struck another major university and one of Gaza City's largest mosques, Shifa mosque, a large part of the University in Gaza City was damaged in an air strike. A refugee who risks his life to visit the scene just two hours after the bombardment tells us while sitting in lawn ofAl-Shifathat glass from broken windows and notebooks belonging to some of the thousands of students who attended the university were scattered around the premises. Thanks To Allah no casualties in the university. Talking about Shifa Mosque he tells us, "I spoke to the people who were running this mosque. It took them years to raise money to build it, and within seconds it was just reduced to just rubble,” Over the past few days we have seen that there were no red lines for Israel. At least six hospitals have been targeted, UN schools where people were sheltering, have been targeted.
The genocide of Rafah is also important,… between Friday and Saturday night there was a battle going on between Palestinian fighters and Israeli terrorist army, during the fight an Israeli soldier, Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, was lost. The Israeli army said it believed that Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was captured by Hamas in an ambush. Hamas, meanwhile, said Israeli troops used the truce deal to storm into Rafah and kill scores of people. And on this base, on Saturday morning Israel brokecease-fireand bombarded Rafah and hundreds of civilians. This was a horrifying genocide, all genocides are horrifying but in Rafah Israel killed patients who tried to flee into Egypt during ceasefire. On Saturday morning Israel announced a ceasefire and just after few hours they pounded Rafah with bombs. The whole day they attacked Rafah and ambulances arrived inAl-Shifa,many international activists who wanted to leave Gaza to take advantage of cease fire were also trapped. Israeli forces sealed off the Rafah area, and warned that cars on the streets would be considered potential targets, Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah, was also attacked by Israel and force authorities to evacuate after receiving attacks, the hospitals authorities evacuated the Hospital just to make guarantee of the safety of patients and staff.
It’s not only with the Al Najjar Hospital, as the number of dead and wounded are increasing, many Palestinian hospitals are directly under attack and they have all found themselves in the line of fire. According to the United Nations' humanitarian office, 22 health facilities, including hospitals and clinics, have been damaged or destroyed in the recent Israeli military genocide. The World Health Organization (WHO) said that it had been able to verify that at least eight hospitals have been damaged since fighting flared. The organization said it was still assessing accounts of damage to six others. The United Nations condemned the attacks, noting that medical staff and facilities are protected under international law but they only condemned what a shame it was that Israel destroyed Hospitals. If Russia did the same in Ukraine, what would be the American and European reaction? But coming back to the original topic….
According to theOffice for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (United Nations). OCHAthese are the hospitals that have been hit in Gaza so far:
Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, the only specialist rehabilitation hospital in Palestine, was forced to evacuate on July 17, and completely destroyed on July 23. They hit five missiles targeting the facility on July 11, 2014. The Israeli military began striking the building around 8: 00 pm and within two hours all hospital staff and patients had evacuated the only rehabilitation centre in the Gaza Strip. As they departed what remained intact from the medical centre burned to the ground. After the Israeli army began striking the hospital, nurses and officials made desperate arrangements to relocate the patients. Many of those in El- Wafa’s care are paralyzed and are connected to oxygen support. Some of the nurses left the building to seek help, braving Israeli fire on the streets in order to track down an ambulance with an oxygen tank. A witness tells me that nurses were unable to stand on their feet because of the smoke and the heat.El-Wafa’sstaff managed to evacuate all of the patients to a nearby medical clinic inside of a hotel. The ones who could stay stayed but the ones who lost consciousness and lost control they moved. .
Gaza's largest hospital, the600-bedAl-Shifamedical complex in Gaza City, has provided care to hundreds of wounded Palestinians and has provided shelter to some 2,000 civilians in the past weeks. The hospital was struck by Israeli explosions on July 28. The blasts, destroyed part of an outpatient clinic and left a2-footdeep crater, without causing any injuries.
Beit Hanoun serving the northern Gaza city of closed down after it came under fire for the second time on July 25. According to the World Health Organization, the shelling destroyed the emergency room and wounded a nurse and international visitor. The World Health Organization added that just outside the hospital, an ambulance worker was killed while trying to rescue the wounded. Now it’s WHO report we are here inAl-shifawe met many people from all areas of Gaza i met a few witnesses who told me that the Israeli military shelled the hospital for hours, leaving staff, international visitors and a few remaining patients trapped inside.
Mohamed Durra Children's Hospital Gaza City. A small children's hospital east of Gaza City was hit by shrapnel on July 25, killing a2-year-oldchild who was undergoing CPR in the intensive care unit at the time. According to WHO six patients died in attack. Mohamed Durra Children's Hospital Gaza City was closed because of damage caused by Israeli strikes now think about the patient those who were in Hospital for treatment.
Balsam Military Hospital, in North Gaza town Beit Lahiya was evacuated and closed on July 23 after it was damaged by fighting, according to the WHO. But it is important to mention that same hospital was attacked on
11th of July causing damage to the surgery department, operating theatre and paediatrics ward.
Israeli shells struck the164-bedal-AqsaMartyrs Hospital in the central area of Deiral-Balahon July 21, Gaza's. Witnesses said that five people were killed and 70 injured in the blast, including dozens of medical staff. Ambulances tried to evacuate the wounded, but had to turn back when shells continued to fall.
On July 17 Israeli forces attackAl-QudsHospital A fire broke out after shells attack on hospital 7 Killed in the attack. The WHO said that thenon-profithospital was moderately damaged and closed.
In early July Israel attacked one of Gaza’s biggest public health facilities, Gaza European Hospital, South Gaza Khan Younas. The ICU and paediatrics ward were evacuated and a nurse was wounded in the attack.
Al-AhliArab Hospital, Gaza City, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, was already short on medicine and overflowing with patients wounded by the Israeli aggression. But airstrikes damaged its emergency room, operation theatre and ventilation system inmid-July.The hospital was founded as a Christian missionary organization in 1882; the80-bedhospital was also providing shelter to around 100 displaced families.
Beit Hanoun Hospital was evacuated on July 26 after several hours of direct and indirect shelling overnight, and closed. Israeli attacks on hospitals are a gross breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as are the attacks on civilians. I request to the United Nations, the international community and people of good conscience everywhere to take concrete action to bring an immediate end to the ongoing Israeli attacks on medical facilities and personnel, and massacres of Gaza civilians.
August 9 Israeli warplanes struck multiple targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday after a72-hourceasefire agreement ended at 8 am, killing a child and injuring 15 Palestinians. 10 civilians were killed and five others injured in an Israeli strike on a mosque in the Sheikhal-Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City. Six others were injured across Gaza as Israeli airstrikes targeted Gaza City, northern Gaza, Rafah, and Jabaliya. I checked the list of martyrs inAl-shifahospital on August 9, after Four weeks of bloodshed Israel killed 1,890 Palestinians, and 67 people died on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers. Shortly after the Israeli air strikes, resistance groups in Gaza fired a few rockets at southern Israel, but today Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committee, and Fatah'sal-Asia military wing claimed responsibility. There is a UN center close to us; I often visit in search of my father. Today I read a report in their office according to this report 73 percent of the Palestinian victims or 1,354 people were civilians. Of that number, at least 429 were children.
On August 10 Israel and Hamas agreed on another 72 hours cease fire and refugees take a big breath in the court yard ofAl-Shifa.Israel has previously stated they will not negotiate. Hamas stated its negotiating members will leave Cairo on 10 August if Israel did not attend negotiations. But later it was announced that Israel and the Palestinian factions accepted a three day ceasefire, beginning midnight. But in the afternoon Israel closed the borders and did not let the aid in Gaza. They stopped bombing, now they make a ceasefire and start killing us by stopping our aid, thanks to International community who always just condemned. While I am sitting in the cafe of Al-Shifahospital listening to news on the radio I hear news that Turkey announced that they would utilize the 72 hour ceasefire to evacuate wounded Palestinians to their hospitals.
Before midnight, as in the other ceasefires, Israel brutally killed many innocents and children of the Faraj Abu Raviah, family. 11 killed in one air strike. But it's a ceasefire now. We are in another 72 hour wait for another round of bombing. Life of an average Palestinian is made so hard by Israel. They don't care about Palestinian privacy. In Europe and America, breaching someone’s privacy is a crime, but in Palestine it’s routine for Israel they can enter in any house with their guns and even bulldozers. In Shejaiyah, where I live, I witnessed several times as they invaded borders and breached our privacy by entering our homes. Two months ago an Israeli bulldozer crushed the outside of my neighbor’s home, pushing rubble through his kitchen. Dozens of Israeli soldiers then entered his home, many of them masked, moving from room to room, weaponsin-hand.There were 14 family members inside this home, all civilian women and children, the old man screamed to the army commanders in Hebrew, a language he mastered over 30 years as a construction worker in Israel. "I have built in Israel more than you," he yelled, as the soldiers ignored his pleas. "I want safe haven for my 14 family members," the57-year-oldeventually told the soldiers, four hours after they first entered his home. Shejaiyah is a strong hold of Al Qassam the Hamas military wing, they are in the area so they rushed to the old man house, but then we witnessed something very often with us the Israeli soldiers used the family as human shields - walking behind them through the streets of Shejaiyah.
Israel always blames Hamas saying that they use Civilians of Gaza as human shields but in my whole life I have never witnessed a single incident of Hamas using civilians as human shields. I am, however, aneye-witnessthat Israeli soldiers used civilians as human shields. Israel accused Hamas and then because of their false propaganda the world stands with Israel. Israel handles most of world leaders; actually the rich "Jew" media forces average Christians and ignorant TV watchers to believe what they say about Hamas and Palestine. The result is that the US Gov. Officials often condemns Hamas in their official statements, even during the current Genocide the House of Representatives condemns Hamas for using civilians as humanshields—accusationsbased solely on Israeli propaganda.
In the last four weeks, the Israeli army has deliberately bombed family homes, UN shelters, schools, places of worship, hospitals, water infrastructure and more, killing more than 1,730 Palestinians, 80 percent of who have been civilians, including nearly 420 children. In propaganda echoed by the US State Department, the Israeli government has repeatedly claimed that Hamas is using women and children as human shields to protect its weapons and rocket launchers, forcing Israel to massacre innocent Palestinians. The only evidence Israel has provided for this unsubstantiated accusation is cartoon sketches. Even the New York Times has conceded that “There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack.”
Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's most experienced Middle East editor, visited Gaza in this current Massacre, and after visiting all UN schools Refugee camps, hospital and mosques he declared, “I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.” But Israel’s pathetic drawings are all the evidence US elected officials and for few other European countries need to absolve Israel of responsibility for war crimes.
Like the House of Representatives the Senate also slams Hamas for “placing its underground tunnel network and missile batteries in densely populated areas, and in and around schools, hospitals, and mosques” and “calls on the international community to recognize the grave breaches of international law committed by Hamas in using human shields.” Besides ignoring the fact that all of Gaza is densely populated, this accusation fails to address
that Israel also places its military command centers among civilian populations, most notoriously HaKirya, the Israeli army headquarters, which is located in the heart of densely populated Tel Aviv, surrounded by malls, museums, hospitals, schools and so on. Perhaps one day Israel will be held to the same standards as Hamas by US elected officials, but for now it appears the “most moral army in the world” can do as it pleases.
The House of Representatives condemned some 2,000 rockets fired by Hamas at Israel but makes no mention of the more than 3,000 tons ofprecision-guided explosives that Israel deliberately dropped on Gaza’s civilian population and infrastructure even in the first fifteen days of this onslaught. The House of Representatives praises Israel for warning Palestinians in advance with leaflets and text messages before obliterating their neighborhoods, though it neglects to note that the people of Gaza have nowhere safe to evacuate to, given that they are prevented from leaving the tiny coastal enclave, where nothing, not even hospitals, is off limits for Israeli bombs. Still, the House of Representatives declares that Israel “goes to extraordinary lengths to target only 'terrorists',” which suggests that the House of Representatives believe hospitals, playgrounds, family homes and UN schools sheltering the displaced (at least six have been shelled by Israel) qualify as “terrorist” targets. Most outrageously, the House of Representatives equates Hamas withal-Qaidaand the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Hamas is the Palestinian political party that was democratically elected in 2006 to govern the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It also happens to have a military wing engaged in armed resistance against the State of Israel, a state that has been ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their indigenous lands for nearly seventy years, in what amounts to “incremental genocide,” according to the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. Likening Hamas’ armed resistance to a rogue sectarian militia that is slaughtering civilians in Syria and Iraq is utterly absurd and irresponsible propaganda that only the most extreme of Israel’s supporters are spreading. Ironically, it is Israel that has awell-documentedhistory of using Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields. In what is referred to as “the neighbor procedure,” Israeli soldiers force Palestinian civilians to approach armed suspects and homes potentially rigged with explosives to protect the lives of soldiers. Israel was condemned by the United Nations as recently as last year for its “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants.”
More recently, Palestinian civilians have accused Israeli forces of using them as human shields in the Khuzaa neighborhood in Gaza, which has been the site of heavy shelling. If anyone should be condemned for using human shields, it is clearly Israel. The most recent example of Israel using civilians as human shields is the massacre of Khuza'a, Israeli military launched a ground invasion into Khuza'a, a town of about 10,000 residents near the city of Khan Younis, not far from the border with Israel, on July 23. The Israeli army fired on and killed dozens of civilians in Khuza’a during the ground offensive, human rights groups have reported, with some calling the attacks that were launched between July 23 and 25 "apparent violations of the laws of war". The Israeli army reportedly warned Khuza'a residents to leave the area, but many residents were trapped in the town as it was under heavy Israeli shelling. Israeli air strikes hit many civilian homes, and destroyed the local mosque.
According to the Red Cross a paramedic attempting to evacuate wounded Palestinians and remove dead bodies from Khuza'a was also killed,. "Warning families to flee fighting doesn’t make them fair targets because they’re unable to do so, and deliberately attacking them is a war crime. A refugee from Khuza’a tells us that on 23 July Israeli soldiers destroyed his house and forced him and his family to leave Khuza'a. Israeli soldiers ordered residents of Khuza'a to leave their homes, and forced them to pass through anarmy-operatedcheckpoint before allowing them to leave the area. Between70-100residents were arrested at this checkpoint, and transferred to a makeshift interrogation center on the Israeli side of theGaza-Israelborder. For many, the detention lasted at least three days. It is nothing but crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing and it was committed indiscriminately. Israeli soldiers arrested two of Younis children, Baker and Saad, along with two of their cousins. About 100 Palestinians from Khuza’a were arrested on
July 23, most of them boys and men over the age of 15. Israeli troops reportedly forced the Imam of the town’s main mosque at gunpoint to announce via loudspeakers - "Surrender yourself to the Israeli army and you will be safe" - to draw the men out of their homes. Younas said that "They forced us to sit on the ground under the hot sun for about an hour "All of us, together, from the same neighborhood, we have nothing to do with the resistance. The soldiers took the men to an unknown destination, and made them strip down to their underwear. They were then handcuffed and blindfolded for five days.
Baker, one of the many Younis kids, was forced to sit on hot sand against his bare backside. His brother, Saad, was forced to sit on hot pavement. "The night was freezing cold, and they were naked except for their underwear." Every night, for five nights, they were forced to sleep in a sitting position. They woke them up two to three times each night. They were handcuffed for 24 hours. The brothers were released from Israeli detention and dropped off at the Erez crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip. From there, they were picked up by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and driven back to Khan Younis. Their two cousins remain missing, and the family hasn’t received any information on their whereabouts. Baker, who is soon to be married, lost everything from his now- destroyed home in Khuza’a. Even the $2,000 he kept in the safe for his wedding expenses was stolen by the Israeli troops. The Palestinian factions, shortly before the ceasefire expired, announced the extension of the ceasefire by 5 days. But, 14 August during the night, despite the ceasefire still in effect, Israel struck four shells in Gaza, killing 10 more civilians.
I am sitting with my mom, she is fine now and Allah has given me another brother, he is so cute. On the evening of 14 august I was sitting close to my mom’s bed and looking at my new born baby brother and I was thinking, 'what should I tell him when he is 9, or 10 when he asks me about our father?' Where will we take him, we don’t have a home now, we don’t have clothes for him, we don’t have baby food for him. He opened his eyes under siege, under bombs and guns. He open his eyes under drones, his first sounds were the noise ofF-16s.He opened his eyes to blood, to dead bodies lying beside him. He opened his eyes in darkness, when Gaza is under attack.
It’scease-fire.I have time to find my father. Most of the refugees here try to convince me that he is dead. "If he was alive then he would come toAl-shifa,because everyone knew that Shejaiyah refuges live inAl-Shifa."But I don’t want to give up, so I leaveAl-Shifain search of my father, my new friend tagging along. On the road there are the remains of the Israeli genocide everywhere, dead bodies on the road, as there are no more places in the hospitals to store them and return them to their relatives for a honorable burial. Gaza is completely destroyed; everything we have has been destroyed. I haven’t seen any market, any mosque, school, or home that hasn't been affected.
As I entered in a medical complex I found a list of deceased. There he was, my father, 2nd line, third name- 'Abu- Qasim found on road of Shejaiyah on 22 July.' I knew he would never leave Shejaiyah without us. I don’t know what happened with him but medic’s authorities gave me details that he lost his life due to heavy smoke. As a staff member of the hospital opened the door of the room where his body was, I saw hundreds of dead bodies labeled by their names on their chest. I wanted to cry but I stopped myself, if I cry here it would be an insult to the Martyrs, they sacrifice their lives for Palestine, and who am I to spoil their sacrifices with my dirty tears. Hundreds lie with my father, they all are someone's father, brother, son or husband. My father is not more important than the Holy Land of Palestine. My chemistry Professor often tells us in our class that in other parts of world people are born for death, but in Palestine we born to be martyrs, so my father is a martyr. I hold the tears in, but I feel my heart breaking. Oh my Allah, I lost my father, a father who taught me how to walk, and a father who….. but no more crying, he is a martyr, I have no right to spoil his sacrifice. There is another problem for me I have no male relative in Gaza; actually I have no relative at all. I have to make arrangements for my father's burial, but how, and how do I tell my mother that there is a dead body in the morgue that needs buried and he is our family head.
I am sitting outside the room of bodies; my dog is in my arms, my only real friend. I walk back toAl-Shifa,I enter in the ward and sit close to my mom’s bed, and she looked at me and said, "What happened, are you ok?" I said, "Yes I am ok, I am happy." She smiled and said "You found your father?" "Yes, but I am happy because of another reason." I replied. "May I know why you are so happy?" she said. "Because my father is a martyr, he sacrificed his life for Gaza, for the land of Palestine." My mom screamed, she started crying, the ward nurses came and they tried to calm her. My brother also started crying, but I sat in front of them, no tears in my eyes, no screaming, and no sadness. Why should I cry for a martyr, when Allah tells us that martyrs never die? He left the world but he will always stay alive, so why tears, why sadness.
I make arrangements for my father's funeral with the help of few refugees. We don’t take his body to my home town; we bury him, instead, with other martyrs in Gaza city. I want to close this chapter, I lost my father but my father is not more important than many others martyrs of Gaza and Palestine, they all are important, but for our motherland no more crying, be strong, be brave.
15 August the Hamas spokesman stated that even if a lasting agreement isn't achieved by Monday, the ceasefire will continue, in addition to confirming that the seaport and airport talks have been postponed. Hamas always supports Ceasefire. But a ceasefire with respect, not under guns. Whenever Israel and Hamas sit at a table for negotiations it's Hamas who first agrees on ceasefire, but here everyone should remember that Gaza is under siege, without lifting siege peace will not come how you expect peace under guns and bombardment.
*Israel will halt military actions in Gaza by land, air or sea.
*All Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop all attacks against Israel by land, air or sea.
*The openings between Israel and Gaza for the transfer of goods to rebuild Gaza will be determined between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
*Israel and PA will coordinate all issues of funds related to Gaza's reconstruction.
*The elimination of the buffer zones along the security fence, in stages, with the deployment of PA troops.
*The fishing zone in stages will be extended to 12 miles, coordinated by Israel and the PA.
*Israel will assist the PA in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed in Gaza as well as assisting those whose homes were destroyed.
*International aid groups will provide the basic products needed to rebuild Gaza.
*Egypt implores the international community to provide swift humanitarian and monetary assistance for Gaza’s reconstruction.
*The exchange of prisoners and remains will also be discussed at a later time.
*The seaport and airport will be discussed at a later time
16 August Palestinians in Cairo tell Israel to meet their demands or "face a long war. Israeli officials stated that if talks in Cairo fail, it will be up to the UN Security Council to negotiate a truce.
17 August Israel responded to Palestinian demands by saying that no demands will be met without security being guaranteed in Israel, including the demilitarization of Gaza. As a sign of good faith, Israel removed the fishing blockade and allowed Gazans fishermen to fish up to the three miles out.
18 August in the evening, as the five day ceasefire neared an end, we hear in the news that Israeli stated that they are prepared for any scenario in Gaza. In preparation for possible restart of violence, the train to Sderot was cancelled, so they could be fortified to protect against anti- tank missile attacks on them. Israel arrested 93 Gaza civilians today. In the evening, reports began circulating that Israel and the Palestinian factions have agreed to a long term ceasefire, which would be signed and announced at 23:00.
19 August overnight news leaked that the US and Israel came to an agreement over the blockade of Gaza. Israel agreed to ease the blockade and in exchange, the US will use their international influence to prevent Hamas from rearming.
In the afternoon, shortly before 16:00, three shells fired by Israeli Navy boat, breaking the ceasefire with the first action by either side in nearly 6 days. Israel can’t understand the language of politics.
19 August is another deadly day in Gaza genocide all the Israel pounded dozen of bombs on us and on head of babies. Overnight Israel targeted the house of a Hamas member, killing his wife and son, and later his daughter was also confirmed killed. Israel later confirmed that Hamas member was their target; however there was no confirmation if the unidentified body found was member of Hamas. Hamas stated that none of member is died in any attack, however there are many conflicting reports stating that he was killed in the strike. In the morning, reports leaked that Qatar threatened to expel Khaled Mashaal if Hamas accepted the Egyptian ceasefire.
August 20 is the day Gaza when freedom fighters fought back and now they are fighting with full of their force and determination rocket after rocket on Israel. On a single day freedom fighters fire 168 rockets in to Israel which is a record in the history of Palestinian freedom movement. All groups of Freedom fighters joined hands with each other and start a grand operation against Israel. Still Israel attacking civilians but we are ready now everyone here in Gaza is ready now we are sitting in big hall ofAl-shifaand today everyone is happy on freedom fighters fight. Slogans in favor of resistance shaking the walls of hall. Whenever Local radios break news of a rocket attack people hug each other. Today we forget that outside this hall there is a city Gaza who is completely destroy and whose roads are full of dead bodies. No worries today. We are listening news of our lions who sacrifice their lives against illegal Israeli state.
In the morning of 21 August Israel killed three civilians in one air strike near Khan Younis, they were going to bring food from the closest market for their families. The local radio announce in the afternoon that Israeli army called up 10,000 reservists. Shooting in the south continued, and the Israeli army carried out about 30 deadly air strikes on civilians of Gaza. 23 August Is the happiest day for us because today the IDF accept the power of resistance and stated that more than 100 rockets and mortars were fired by resistance on Israel since midnight. 24 August we hear news on local radio that in the early morning five rockets were fired into northern Israel from south Lebanon. The Lebanese Army later located the launcher used.
In the afternoon, according to local radio the Hamas would agree to a month long ceasefire proposed by Egypt in order to restart truce talks in Cairo. Egyptian mediators were awaiting Israeli approval before formally announcing the plan on Monday evening. 26 August overnight Israel struck Italian Tower building in Gaza, building, which contained a mix of residences, offices (including the Ministry of Public Works), and retail stores. Two were reported killed, about 20 injured, and most of the complex was destroyed. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement in Cairo. When amonth-longceasefire was agreed, nearly 2100 people had been killed in Gaza, and 69 Israelis. It was estimated that reconstruction in the Gaza Strip after damage suffered in this conflict would take 20 years.
I am sitting in the courtyard ofAl-Shifawith my dog. I see the road; it's full of people, slogans in favor of resistance, victory signs. Palestinian flags, sweets being distributed. I watch all of this going on in front me, they are happy. And I am happy, we won, we won a war. A war which is imposed on us, which destroyed our city. Israel wanted us to surrender, but we united and stood against their cruel action. I salute my people's courage, we have nothing but we refuse to give up. We will fight, we resist because it’s for our land, it’s for our self respect, and it’s for all people, everywhere. Gaza remained under attack for 52 days. We have nothing left but we gained courage and a determination to resist. In the last 52 days our economy has been destroyed. We lost our homes, our Government infrastructure, our schools, colleges, hospitals, everything. 52 days is how long it took for Israel to turn our lives into rubble. But from this rubble has come a wave of bravery, determination and resistance. We have discovered, and the world has discovered that Gaza teaches LIFE!
52 days ago I was a poor Palestinian girl, but now I am not an ordinary girl, I am one whose family sacrificed for Palestine; I am from a family of Martyrs. I sacrificed my home, my home land, but, I am a daughter of a brave father who sacrificed his life for our country. We are Gazans we never surrender. I know a day will come when Palestine will be free. I will walk in olive trees with my little bird friend and with my strange, stray dog. There will be no fear of illegal settlers and Israeli missiles. I know a day will come when Gaza fishermen will throw their nets in the sea without fear of Navy Boats. From river to sea, Palestine will be free.