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April 1, 2013 · Posted in Commentary 


The View From Gaza


Israel began to build its country in the Palestinian lands and began to control the Palestinian people at the beginning of 1948. It forced them to escape from their homes to other countries or cities. Many of those immigrants went to the neighboring countries like Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and the others went to Gaza and the West Bank. This occupation made many massacres in those lands, like Deir Yassin, where everyone was killed. The Israelis took about 70 percent of Palestine.

In 1994 the Israeli armies put Gaza and the West Bank under Palestinian authority. In spite of that, the occupation did not stop massacres inside Gaza and the West Bank. There were numerous invasions during the 2000 Intifada, but the most dangerous and terrible time was the 2008/2009 war on Gaza and its people.

One early December morning during that last war, I was in waiting with my friends for my exams in a secondary school. We were preparing and joking with each other. Suddenly, many missiles and bombardments appeared in the Gaza sky and they began falling all around us. We thought that those missiles were just factitious missiles, so we went to our exams. After we had taken the exams and went outside, some of the men around were listening to a radio and one of them suddenly shouted “Allah Akbar!!! About 400 policemen were martyred by Israeli attacks.”’. I was shocked. I did not believe it. Was it an accident. I was speaking these thoughts to myself.

At home, my family and neighbors were talking about how this was the beginning of a new and large war on Gaza by Israel. This would be a different kind of war because we now had more martyrs. We tried to eat lunch, but I couldn’t eat. I was thinking about my people who had already been martyred and of their sons, their daughters and all their families. I was wondering where it would all lead.

We did not leave our home for several days. My family and I stayed inside, and I think most families in Gaza were at home, their ears glued to the radio. The power went off that first day. I don’t remember everything that happened the first days of that terrible war. It was hard to express my feelings or my thoughts. I don’t know why I felt so isolated at first. Some might ask of what was I so afraid? I don’t think I was afraid, even the little children were not afraid. A lot of us children were playing marbles – they were not afraid. I think it was just hard to focus the mind, to remember all that happened. Perhaps I just didn’t want to remember the details of the atmosphere of that massacre.

I can remember one particular day though. The power was off, the water was not flowing. We were all thirsty, we needed to do something. What to do? We went downstairs and began to get water from the first floor and to carry it up. A neighbor had a power engine. He switched it on and gave us a cable so we could use it too, and we were able to fill our barrel with water.

When the war was over and we began to leave our homes, we hugged each other and felt close. Fortunately my school hadn’t been destroyed although a lot of schools had been destroyed. I felt bad because many of my friends’ homes were gone, and many people were injured.

One of my friends told me that when he and his family were in their home, they did not find water to drink, so they used the bath water to drink. But alas, this messy water was not enough for them.

And another one told me that when the war ended, they went to their farm to see what happened. As they were looking at the trees and the tame animals, they found a corpse of a martyr in the middle of their farm. They discovered that this person had been martyred more than two weeks earlier, but the wonderful thing was that the corpse looked like a new corpse. So this is a sign of the value of the martyr in Gaza and the world.

The bulldozers that were sent in to occupy us had destroyed many trees and homes and they were simply gone. A friend told me that his family had left their home and when they returned, they were shocked to find it no longer existed. Their entire community had been destroyed.

One of our neighbors was walking back to his family home with his daughter when suddenly from one of the drones that had filled the sky came shots that killed his daughter.

I don’t know why the Israelis did this. Why did they occupy us? I need someone to explain this to me. I just don’t understand.

When it was all over, there were 1500 martyrs. Please dear reader, you try to explain it. Try to imagine that you were a Gazan and suddenly your mother or father or even your entire family was wiped out. Try to imagine that.

—Mohammad Arafat



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