A Tale Of Determination

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June 1, 2013 · Posted in Commentary 

Israeli settlers taunt a Palestinian woman who has just been evicted from her home



By Mohammad Arafat

The Gaza strip is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and is an important link between Asia and Africa. The traders of Asia and Africa used to cross Gaza in their comings and goings between the two continents. That importance no doubt made it attractive to the Israelis in their occupation of Gaza and all of Palestine in 1948. The Palestinian people have fought back against the occupation and massacres. They have forced it to withdraw from Gaza and we hope all of Palestine one day.

The Palestinian resistance made Israelis leave Gaza, but that occupation is still in control because Israel besieged Gaza by cutting power and water.  It controls our food and the cooking gas. In December of 2008, F16 warplanes and lots of missiles fell on us.

What was the effect of all this, besides creating 400 martyrs and injuring hundreds of people. Let me tell you the sad and tragic story of my friend Musab, who was injured during the 2008 war in Gaza.

Musab is a young man from Gaza strip who lived a normal family life with his parents and seven brothers and sisters. He is a successful student in life and his studies. But when Dec. 28, 2008 came along, school in Gaza had just completed the final exams of the first semester. The first exams were the Arabic ones. That day Musab and his friends shook each others’ hands and then began preparation for the exams. They were so ready for the exams, but they did not know that they were soon going to be caught up in a big raid on Gaza strip. They were listening to the Palestinian anthem when many warplanes flew over and began to shell. The raids kept coming, and many innocent people were killed. The students in the school began screaming and crying. At first they thought the sounds they were hearing were thunder or something natural, but finally they realized that it is a new war and it was just the beginning. The teachers in the school asked students to go home and stay there safely. Musab went to his home on foot because there were no cars or buses. The streets were completely empty.

As he walked through the streets, people were running and crying everywhere around him. Children trying to make their way home were also screaming and crying. The students were all anxious to get home to make sure their families were OK. They were afraid their families would become martyrs. Then parents came out on the streets looking for their children. Mothers, some of whom had lost husbands, were also adding to the wail of people looking for each other. Then people were looking for their relatives–I’m sure it was just like it was in World War I and World War II.

Musab wanted to cry as he walked and finally got home. He found his family watching T.V. Musab has a brother who is paralyzed from  a brain defect. His brother was particularly afraid of the big bombs and the scenes of martyrs. He had stopped eating and drinking. He was shocked at what he had seen and heard.

As they all tried to contemplate what had happened, a huge bomb shook their home–it was like an earthquake. The power was gone. The family groped in the darkness. Over the next ten days of the war, bombs and missiles fell. They thought the war would end quickly, but instead it was just the beginning of the massacre.

On the tenth day of the war, the occupation began with soldiers and tanks and bulldozers and heavy weapons of many kinds. The Apache warplanes were raining rocket flares down on all the empty parts of town, so they could see what was going on. None of the family could sleep, especially during the night. It was the 11th day when the Israeli soldiers came and forced those who lived near the border out of their homes. They controlled the homes on the hills as well, so they could see the city from on high.

Musab’s family, like others, made their way to the UNRWA schools. They thought the occupation would not destroy the schools, because at least they would respect international agreements.

Musab’s family witnessed, as they made their way to a safe haven, an UNRWA school blown up by a big missile fired from a reconnaissance drone.  Before their eyes, they saw ten innocent people– children and women included–killed. The ambulance came to carry the corpses away. As this was going on, another shell came from the same drone, killing three paramedics and their ambulance. There were body parts everywhere. Musab saw one person’s feet and then he saw the same person’s hands hanging from a nearby tree.

Musab’s family got to a school, but it was crammed with displaced people. There was no place. They went to another, but there was no room anywhere. They went to an aunt’s home because they thought it might be safer. They put all their stuff in one small room and all of them slept there that night.

In the morning, Musab and his little brother went home to feed the hungry chickens and hens. There was a short truce. They found all the birds and animals dead. They returned to their aunt’s home, sad but patient.

When Musab got back to his aunt’s home, his mother asked him to go buy something for his hungry littler brothers. It had been a while since they had eaten. He went outside to join others looking for food. They all came across two garbage collectors, who had been killed by a drone. Another big missile had killed five others. Musab became one of the wounded on that occasion.

At first he got very dizzy–he didn’t yet know he had two fragments in him, one in his neck and the other in his chest. He found an empty ambulance and got in it, waiting for the paramedics to show up. When they came, they were carrying half of a man and other parts of his body. Musab was so horrified he passed out.

When they arrived at the hospital, he was not immediately taken inside. He bled a lot and the doctors didn’t expect him to survive. But they operated, and Allah blessed him. He survived.

Musab’s family did not know their son was still alive. They thought he had been killed. They went to look for his corpse at the hospital. They found one,  who at first looked like Musab. The father told Musab’s mother and other family members he had been martyred. The father then left his son’s corpse and went home to prepare for a funeral.

When Musab’s brothers came to get the corpse, however, they showed him the corpse’s identification. Musab’s brothers went back to get his father to keep looking for their brother’s body. When all returned to the hospital, they mistakenly went into a room where the injured were. One of them was Musab. He was alive and safe and sound.

The fragments remained in his body for eight months. Then he got into the secondary stage at school and got high marks. His determination drove him until he had successfully matriculated to the English department at the university.

He was driven by the same determination that drives the entire Palestinian people.


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