Thanks to Laila Al-Haddad, who has provided several first personal accounts of the enormous person suffering of Gaza’s residents under siege both from their own internal civil war and Israeli Occupation. The story that touched me most was that of a teenage girl who recounted her terror at hiding in the basement of her apartment building while Fatah and Hamas forces bombarded her home and set its apartments on fire:
Hadeel Abo Dayya, 17 , high school student
We’ve witnessed a lot, but we’ve never experienced something like this. They’ve lost their sense of humanity.
My four siblings, my parents, and myself stayed holed up in the basement of our high-rise tower with 35 other residents – some in wheelchairs, some of them elderly, for over six hours without food or water as gunmen took over the building and others on the outside began to attack and exchange fire with them.
Members of the Hamas Executive Force were in our building, and so Fatah security forces on the outside, in another building were firing at them with machine guns and RPGs, and mortars. A few of the RPGs landed in some of the apartments; they hit the curtains, which lit on fire, and eventually entire apartments burned to the floor.
Fatah doesn’t care about Hamas and Hamas doesn’t care about Fatah, they both only care about who wins. Who is in control became more important than the lives of human beings. Both sides lost their sense of humanity and understanding.
We went down after four mortars and RPGs landed in the rooms. We didn’t all want to die – we were trying to think strategically at that point. There were bullets literally flying over our heads. Then more RPGs hit the curtains and they began to burn. We risked our lives and fled [to the basement] under fire. We’re now staying in a hotel until we can find a new apartment.
Where is the president? Where is the prime minister? Where are they? They are all looking out for their own interests. We know that the president’s office can stop this, but he prefers not to. We were asking for just 30 minutes ceasefire to allow us and the other trapped bystanders to evacuate, but they wouldn’t even give us that.
Now, after this happened, after I thought I was going to die, after I saw that even ambulances weren’t allowed to reach us, I thought: what is this nation, these people, that I am working so hard to build?
I am crushed. But then I thought; how will the outside world help me? I have to stay strong and persevere. What I learned is that the world is like a pencil. Your memory, your life, everything you know or think you know, can be erased in an instant. My passport, our ID cars, everything is gone now in that fire.
And lest any pro-Israel partisans take heart from this internal Palestinian strife and say: “See, they’re killing each other. How can we trust them as a partner for peace;” please remember how Gaza got to be this way. An international boycott strangling the economy, preventing free movement of people and goods, no jobs, no hope, no food, no fresh air, little or no medical care. Palestinians certainly deserve their share of blame for this misery. But Israel by no means escapes scot-free.
In fact, Israeli rightists like Netanyahu suggest taking further draconian measures such as shutting down electricity and water supplies to the entire Gaza population. As if this further indignity will finally make them give up their struggle against Occupation. Such proposals are outrageous and should be condemned by all right-thinking individuals and governments including the leadership of the American Jewish community (which has maintained a studied silence). Such measures would be war crimes if implemented. And Israeli voters should keep in mind that if they vote Likud in the next elections this is the type of policy they will be endorsing–treatment of the Palestinians that could land their leaders in the dock in the Hague.
Although this is no response to your blog – I want to take this opportunity to request a favor.
We are looking for opinions about life from people from around the world.
And we currently lack opinions from palestinians.
Can you please help us get that perspective –
Another first hand report:
This is the website of Mohammad Omer, an award-winning photo-journalist. If the pictures at this website to not drive you to action, or at least outrage, then you are surely made of stone. Last year he toured the US and I heard him speak about his near brushes with death. Imagine wearing a bullet-proof vest to take pictures. This is a heart-rending letter he sent out recently after he was almost shot by Palestinian militants:
Richard – I’m glad you realize that the situation of the Palestinians is affected by their own behavior as must as it is affected by Israel’s actions. But may I suggest that instead of a pointless argument about who is to blame here, how about trying to get the collective intelligence of the internet to try and find a solution?