Saturday, August 2, 2014

Terror in The First Day of Eid

We were very excited for Al-Fitir Eid this year which comes after we finish Ramadan, a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. My little brother and sister bought El-Eid clothes since the first week in Ramadan when the mad war was not there yet. They were waiting impatiently for Ramadan to end so they can wear their brand-new clothes and celebrate the Eid, which for our children symbolises joy and happiness embodied in playing on swings. The war started in the second week of Ramadan. Since then, their dreams, Gazan children's dreams of having a happy Eid started to fade away.
My little 12-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister did not stop asking questions. When is this going to end? Are we going to celebrate? Are we going to wear our new clothes? They kept asking till the Eid came but their questions were answered with bombs and new massacres everywhere.
In the first day of Eid, I woke up to the news that my mother's cousin was killed. My mother rushed to my grandfather's home unconsciously when she learned about her cousin's death. We followed her minutes later. At the door, children related to Mohammed, the martyr, were sitting at the threshold crying.
The scene of those little children crying is very heart wrenching. Those children were supposed to be celebrating and enjoying the Eid by now. They were weeping over their beloved uncle instead. I went into the martyr's home concurred with grief. His wife and sisters were there, shocked and full of sorrow. Everyone in the home was unable to believe what had just happened. They were unable to believe that Mohammed, who was always smiling, is now gone, forever. He wasn't going to come and light up the house with his smiles and play with his children, niece and nephews and throw candies at them.
I sat there, in between my relatives who were mourning Mohammed, thinking of the hundreds of victims killed since the start of the attack on Gaza who didn't have a funeral held for them due to the continuing bombardment and rising number of killed people. "What is happening now here is happening, happened, and will happen in many places across Gaza," I thought to myself.
My thoughts were then interrupted by a loud noise outside; I hurried outside. It was Mohammed, carried on the shoulders of men chanting, "Rest in Peace, Mohammed. We will continue the struggle." Everyone was chanting these words as we followed the martyr into his home. Mohammed laid there while wrapped with a flag of Palestine. Everyone he loved came to say the last goodbye and give him the farewell kiss.
Mohammed is/was married with two children; 4-year-old Malak and 2-year-old Ahmed. They were the only ones not crying, they were unable to comprehend what was going on. Malak somehow believed that her father is simply sleeping and that the men are taking him to his work and that he will come back soon. She didn't know that he father was gone forever. She couldn't realise that she will grow fatherless.
The Eid was unlike any other Eid we ever had. Grief was spread all around. Even when children tried to celebrate and forget about the airstrikes, Israel came after them and killed them while playing on swing. Ten children were killed in a drone attack while playing on a mini Ferris wheel in the beach camp in the first day of Eid.
How come the "self-defense" that Israel claims legitimises all the crimes Israel is committing against the innocent inhabitants of the besieged Gaza Strip. It's in the name of 'self-defense' that the Israeli Occupation Forces killed children playing on the beach, children playing on the roof of their house feeding pigeons, children playing on a mini Ferris wheel.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Al-Shijaiyya Massacre

Under the darkness and the non-stop bombing, I gather with my family around the radio listening to the 
news.  News of bombing and murdering keeps coming to an extent that we can't keep up with any more. It is Sunday night; artillery shelling from the north and the east haven't stopped for even a minute.  I decided to escape news and seek a book to read instead. I looked at the small library in my room, and I picked "The 
Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine".

I started reading while the radio is still on reporting the news of massacres being committed against more victims, F16s targeting places every now and then from the very south to the very north of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Occupation navy shelling towards people's houses across the beach, Tank fire and shells being shelled towards people houses across the border line with the so-called 'Israel'. The sound is too loud that the whole house shakes once a new bombardment happen. I jump to the window every time a missile falls to check if its near. If it is not, I go on reading.  I try my best to concentrate. I. However, fail.  So, I went back to join the family who was gathering around the radio, listening to the horrible news.

Reports from Al-Shejaiyya are still flowing intensively. Non-stop. Reports say that Al-Shejaiyya is under intensive bombardment both from the land and the sea. "It is under fire. Houses are burning and being totally destroyed upon their residents. Nakba-like scene can be seen among the traumatized people who are running to safer shelter while shells are chasing them," a witness said. I am in utter shock, unable to move, unable to imagine thousands of innocent people being under fire, under genocide. "The ambulances can't reach the neighborhood, hundreds are injured. Dozens of bodies are still stuck under the rubble." the reporter says.

I looked from the window, the sky is full of war-planes, and it flashes red every now and then. I hear some blasts from a distance, some sound very near. Death seems hovering closer. I shut the window.

News from Al-Shejaiyya is still coming. Some of the neighborhood's inhabitants manage to call the radio to ask for urgent help to rescue them.  "They bombed our house.  They are bombing houses randomly, tens are injured, ambulances haven't reached our area," A person living in Al-Shijaiyya on radio says while out of breath. I heard cries in the background; the same person screams in horror" Help us, the wall is falling, it is falling on us."  He then hanged up. No one knows if he survived or he has gone, to immortality.

He hanged up to leave me wondering what happened to him and to his family. The scene of them all gathering in one room, terrified and helpless, keeps flashing in my mind like a nightmare. I imagine the father trying his best to calm his children down, I imagine them looking in horror, smelling death everywhere, their little bodies sitting next to each other wishing their life won't end under that wall, wishing to survive.

Morning comes out. It's 5 am now, no one knows yet how many are injured, how many are murdered in Al-
Shejaeyya. Ambulances are still banned to go there. I try very hard to sleep.

Electricity came back at 1 pm. I rush to go on the internet, to see what has become of Al-Shejayyah.  "62 are killed, hundreds are injured." I read. Images start conquering my head, I think of the 62 people including 26 children who were killed. The last minutes of their life, their last wish, their battle to survive under inevitable death, the terror they had to go through. I feel helpless, powerless, as I sat just writing this article to document another atrocious massacre, "Al-Shijaiyya Massacre". I just stare at the number of the dead and burst crying. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Turn the Gaza lights on

Imagine that you have to spend your night in utter darkness, to arrange your plan for each day according to a power-cut plan, or to force yourself into bed as there is nothing you can do other than to sit in the dark. Picture yourself studying for your exams using a candle, or spending all day long waiting for the electricity to come back, or walking in streets at night that are only lit by cars' headlights. If you find it hard to imagine all of these things combined, just seek the help of a Palestinian from Gaza. No one could explain it better.

It has been a week since the government announced the new electricity schedule. Yet I still find it very difficult to adapt to. Previously, power used to be off for 8 hours a day. We accustomed ourselves to that schedule despite the fact that it took us a while to get used to it.

The electricity crisis seems to be moving from bad to worse. Never better.  Currently, we only get to see electricity for 6 hours a day. That means that power is off for 18 hours! When I heard the news about the new power-cut plan, I was stunned, my mind froze. I’m not sure how successful I will be at adapting myself to it. I got mad just wondering how I’ll get through the day. What should we do during the 18 hours of darkness? Or should the question be “How can we make the most of the 6 hours of electricity?” Should I Study? Use the Internet? Do the housework? Watch TV? Do the laundry? Ughhh! This is very confusing. Deciding what to do during the 6 hours with electricity is much harder than the 18-hour power-cut!  What a busy 6-hours it’ll have to be!

What do we do during power cuts?

"What do you do during power cuts?” is a question I frequently start with during my English-teaching classes. The majority of my students choose to sleep so time passes faster or flee outside their homes to the streets to sit wherever there are lights.

I work as an English teacher from 11am until 6pm everyday at an English-teaching centre. One of my classes starts at 4pm and finishes at 6pm. It starts getting dark at 5pm in Palestine. I had to finish these classes earlier sometimes because of power-cuts. There is a fuel shortage at the center I’m teaching at which makes it hard to turn on the generator every day. 

When I finally finish work, I keep praying all the way back home that there would be electricity there. However, I usually return to discover that my prayers weren’t met. Feeling very exhausted and hungry, I light a few candles to make lunch. As I have my lunch with the dim light of candles, I try to convince myself that I'm having a romantic lunch. I fail and a malaise falls on me quickly. This is never a romantic lunch.  I didn't choose to have my lunch over candle lights. I was forced to as I didn’t have any other choice. When I finish my late lunch, I sit powerless staring at the darkness and waiting for the lights to turn on and for the generators’ noise to stop. Oh how slow time passes while waiting! The roar of generators keeps hovering over my head all night long.

My parents and my little brother and sister have started to sleep very early at night. They force themselves into their beds at 8 pm or sometimes even earlier. At 4 am they wake up voluntarily after they have enough hours sleep. Sometimes, my mother wakes up in the middle of the night. She deliberately leaves the lights on during power-cuts before she is off to bed, so when the power is back, some light disturbs her sleep so she can take advantage of it, turn on the washing machine, and then return to bed.

Electricity now controls our daily lives. It controls our sleeping and waking up times. It even decides for us whether to receive guests at home or not. Electricity interferes with every detail. Residents of Gaza are not the only ones affected by the power cuts. Their relatives abroad get their share of this daily suffering as well. I have two sisters in Malaysia pursuing their higher education. My mother used to skype them everyday, but now we can barely talk to them. There is either no electricity or a terribly weak Internet connection.

Ways to endure power cuts

My little brother tries very hard to entertain himself during power cuts. Our people are known for innovating means of entertainment. Once, he decided to buy cards "Shaddeh" for us to play during the daily power cuts. Shaddeh turned out to be great fun and great for killing time.  We gather around a small table, light a candle and start playing shaddeh. We repeat the game over and over again until we get bored. One advantage power-cuts have brought to us is that our family spends more time together. My little brother and sister seem to enjoy powercuts because we, sometimes out of boredom, agree to play their ridiculous games.

History of power cuts

The people of Gaza have been suffering from power shortages since Israel bombed the power station in the Gaza strip in June 2006.  Since then, the electricity crisis has gradually become worse. Power-cuts used to last for 8 hours before, but now we only get to enjoy electricity for 6 hours a day. The electricity crisis has a grave impact on all sectors of our lives and all residents of Gaza strip. It has become the main topic that everybody complains about. “Health and humanitarian conditions in Gaza are at risk due to electricity outage  across the Gaza Strip,” The Minister of Health warned. Hospitals are unable to supply fuel to turn the generators on for the whole day. Patients are now at a real risk.
In the thirst for electricity, many people had to buy generators powered by petrol.  However, they had to pay a huge price for it. In some cases, people paid with their lives. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 30 people have died since the beginning of this year due to the unsafe use of generators

Who's to blame?

The situation in Gaza is complicated. We don't really know who to blame for the current crisis. Israel? Egypt? Hamas and Fatah? Or all of them combined? Israel is imposing a suffocating siege on the Gaza strip turning it into an open-air prison. Egypt seems to be collaborating with our jailers in tightening the siege. The Egyptian Authorities have destroyed most of the tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt and imposes a closure on the Rafah border, the only exit for our people outside the strip. Our people used to bring in fuel through the tunnels into Gaza which managed to ease our lives to some extent. Whoever is responsible for darkening the Gaza strip has to stop. Most of the Palestinians living here are under 18, where is the justification to collectively punish them? We have a right in Gaza to see light.

The condition in Gaza is becoming unbearable.  Every day is another challenge for us. Each day we have to show steadfastness in order to survive and go on. Israel has deprived us of our very basic rights. It has deprived us of our land, our freedom, and our right to lead a normal life like any other human. I wonder when we will be able to stop worrying about such basic needs like electricity? On behalf of every civilian of the Gaza strip, I scream, LET OUR LIGHTS COME ON IN GAZA.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

18-11-2012 Attack on Gaza

My uncle called my mother and told her that Israel threatened to bomb a house next to their home, and people there are evacuating their homes. Al-Askri house is just few blocks from my home, the time we heard about the threat. We all gathered in one room waiting for the strike. We were very nervous, the house threatened is 3-floor building, that means it will cause damages to all the neighborhood.

My grandfather home is right in front of the Al-Askri's. 70 persons live in my grandfather's building, most are children. They all gathered at the building's first floor. Kids were crying of horror, and everyone was extremely worried.

As we were waiting anxiously for the strike, Israel launched 5 drones missiles at Al-Askri home, then it targeted the house with F16s missiles. The sound was unbelievable. We could hear the windows of the homes around smashing. We for a moment thought that our house is destroyed, my father went around and checked if everything was okay. Thanks God, everything was fine.

The other day, I went to see Al-Askri's home. The scene was unimaginable, the house is flattened and leveled to the ground. The houses around partially destroyed. Residents of Al-Askri were sitting in front of their destroyed home! They have no shelter now.

below are some photos I shot of Al-Askri house.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Victory or Death

Naje El-Ali once said “The road to Palestine is neither far or near but only at a distance of a revolution.”  Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails have started a revolution against the repression and cruelty of prisons and the hard conditions they live in. Following Naje El-Ali's statement, I say that the road to freedom is neither far nor near, it's at a distance of an empty stomach.

When my father tells me about  the 15 years he spent in Israeli barbaric jails, my thoughts immediately goes there, to the Israeli jails, where there are still more than 5000 prisoners experiencing what my father had experienced.  Locked in their dark cells, deprived from seeing the sun and breathing the fresh air of the beautiful Palestine, away from their homes and friends, not allowed to see or to hug their families, feeling hungry, lonely and cold.  This is how the Palestinian prisoners live and this is what they are obliged to experience every day.

5000 Palestinian detainees are locked up behind Israeli jail bars, dreaming of the day they shall see the sun again. Their life at Israeli prisons is a miserable one. They are deprived of their basic rights that any human being should have. Israel is trying its best to make the Palestinians suffer more and more. Inside the Israel jails, there are young and old men, children, and women. Israeli jails are spread all over Palestine; they do never stop arresting Palestinians.
Palestinian detainees do never accept the injustice and oppression they are subjected to.  You might think they are powerless and can do nothing to end the injustice because they are jailed, chained and have nothing but their bodies. Then you're wrong. Palestinians have their strong will, their desire for freedom, they have their empty stomachs.

Palestinian detainees have long used their empty stomachs to rebel against the cruel and unjust Israeli jails. They used to start the battle of hunger. And today, they continue, and will never ever stop till they get their right of a free and just life.

The least we can do to support our heroes is to show our solidarity with them.  They are eager to know that their people stand by their side and will never ever forget them.

April 17th Hunger strike.

Palestinians inside Israeli jails initiated a mass hunger strike on the 17th of April and they are still going on. Today is their 16th day of hunger strike; they vowed to continue until their demands are accomplished.  More than 3,000 prisoners are now on an open-ended hunger strike in protest of the Israeli policies at jails and the miserable condition of detention in which they are subjected to. They are deprived of their basic human rights. Palestinian prisoners demand to end solitary confinement and administrative detention, put an end to night raids and searches, allow family visits particularly for the prisoners from Gaza who have been deprived of family visits since 2007, ensure the opportunity to continue their education.
Their demands are very legal and they have the full rights to have them accomplished. Israel is violating the very basic human rights of the Palestinian people in general and the Palestinian detainees in particular.
Those Palestinians are not doing so only for the sake of their own freedom, but for the sake of every single Palestinian freedom and dignity. They are the unknown soldiers who suffer to make us live in peace and freedom.

Hunger strikers' life at Risk

Bilal Thiab and Thaer Halahla 

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla are two Palestinian detainees who are held illegally in administrative detention. Bilal and Thaer have declared their open hunger strike on 29 February 2012. They have been hunger striking for more than 60 days to protest administrative detention. Bilal and Thaer decided not to stay silent over their miserable conditions at the Israeli jails. They have followed the steps of Khader Adnan who hunger striked for 66 days protesting his administrative detention and who has made victory over the Israeli occupation and gained his freedom, and the steps of Hana Shalabi who hunger strikred for 44 days.
Bilal Diab and Thaer halahla's health condition is deteriorating. They  suffers from unbelievable pain, they started vomiting blood, their families are very concerned about their health and said that they are afraid that they might die in any moment.
There are a group of another prisoners who have been hunger striking before April 17th.
Hassan Safadi, on his 58th day of hunger strike.
Omar Abu Shalal, on his 56th day of hunger strike.
Mohammad Taj, on his 40th day of hunger strike.
Mahmoud Sarsak, on his 42nd day of hunger strike.
Abdullah Barghouti, on his 20th day of hunger strike.
Jaafar Azzedine, on his 35th day of hunger strike.
Fares Al-Natoor, on his 35th day of hunger strike.

Palestinian prisoners have started a revolution using their empty stomachs. Their empty stomachs speak louder than their voices. Nothing matters to them when it comes to freedom, neither hunger nor jailers will make them stop the battle, The battle of empty stomachs. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

When I Tried to Kill the Dark

"What the hell? Why they cut it now, there are still two hours to go, the electricity is supposed to be cut at 12" I yelled angrily. I am sure that many Gazans had the same reaction when they cut the electricity before its scheduled time. Well, if you're asking about who the hell are "they". I can barely give you a clear answer, as me myself do not even know!  Is it Fatah? Is it Hamas? Is it Israel? Is it Egypt? Or all of them together?  I do not know.

The electricity crisis is not something new to the Palestinians in Gaza, It has been hitting the Gaza Strip since 2006. However, we managed to adjust ourselves to it as it was just cutting off for 8 hours a day. The current electricity crisis is a literally a crisis, now we have only six hours of electricity a day. We have never felt such depression and misery because of the electricity just like how we feel these days. 

Okay, back when the electricity was cut at 10 pm rather than 12 am. I adjusted myself to that day's electricity schedule. Our area was supposed to have electricity from 6 pm to 12 am, but they "cheated" and deprived us of two full hours of electricity. I felt so angry, but I decided to "try killing the dark."

We couldn't turn the generator on because we didn't have fuel. Fuel is getting more and more expensive and no one can afford buying it every day. So my sisters and I decided to watch a movie. My sister's laptop had 93% battery so we used it to watch the movie. We watched "The Shawshank Redemption" We were following every second of the movie impatiently to know what the end would be.  We loved the movie and it made us forget about the electricity. We imagined ourselves as we were in a cinema as the cinema requires no lights.

Unfortunately for us, the battery died 30 minutes before the end. My sister ran to bring my laptop so we can watch the rest of the movie. My laptop had almost 50% battery and it lasted just for 20 minutes (my laptop's battery is somehow useless, I know) both laptop batteries died and we couldn't watch the rest of the movie… We watched it the other day.

Now as our laptops had failed us.  I decided to do something else and not to surrender to the dark. I decided to complete reading "Fast Times in Palestine". PS: (you should read that book, it's amazing and informative.)

Everything that day didn't stop failing me. I had a candle left so I used it to read and kill the time but the candle unluckily died. It was the last candle we had.

It's turning to a boring, non-stopping story, I know. Anyway, that how it went and how it goes every day in Gaza.  After I ran out of candles, I decided to use my phone flash. I turned it on and start reading, forgetting about the dark, and the roaring noise of the generators around.  My phone battery lasted for almost 40 minutes then it died. IT DIED! And now nothing left. No candles, no laptop battery, no phone battery, no generator. I had no choice now but to surrender and force myself into my bed.  

I went under my covers. I was not sleepy at all, but there was nothing I could do. All my sisters went to sleep already, and it was just me awake. I kept staring at the ceiling till I finally fell asleep….

copyright Viva Palestina Malaysia

Friday, February 17, 2012

Khader Adnan,The True Human Being.

I seriously do not know how to start. I am full of anger and distress. Being a Palestinian means that you will never pass a day without hearing bad news, or even experiencing some. I waited 12 hours to start writing this piece as the power was off almost half of the day. I do not want to talk about the electricity crisis in Gaza or the serious consequences of this crisis on us because there is something far more important to talk about.

The detainees cause has always been a main one in the Palestinian cause in general. Palestinian detainees suffer harsh conditions of detention behind the Israeli jail bars, they are subjected to injustice, oppression, and they are subjected to the ugliest methods of torture by the Israeli occupation. 

Hunger-striking has always been used by Palestinian detainees as a non-violent method to fight the prolonged Israeli occupation and his barbaric policy adopted at prisons. The first hunger strike was in 1969 and it lasted for 19 days. There were many other hunger strikes which followed the first one. The Palestinian detainees start hunger strikes to protest Israel injustice and to force the Israeli occupation into applying their just demands.

As I am writing this I suppose you already learned about Khader Adnan's cause.

Khader Adnan, A Palestinian detainee in the Israeli jails, has been hunger striking for 61 days in protest of his illegal detention and Israel cruelty and injustice against the Palestinian detainees in the Israeli prisons all over the occupied Palestine. Khader Adnan was detained on December 17/2011 from his own home outside Jenin, Israel Occupation forces (IOF) broke into his house and arrested him aggressively in front of his two young children and his mother. Khader was handcuffed and blindfolded. IOF drove him to a military jeep and they started beating him ferociously and slapping him on the face.

On Khader's first day under arrest, he started a hunger strike to protest against his illegal detention.  Khader Adnan is held in prison without charge or trial. This is the administrative detention where people are held in prison for political reasons rather than criminal reasons. Israel violates the international laws and standards of fair trials by detaining Palestinians without charge and without giving any evidence against them.  Palestinian detainees are often arrested because they fight for their freedom and dignity; they are not criminals nor terrorists.

Khader Adnan's health condition is deteriorating and his life is at risk.  He has had nothing other than water since December 17th. His wife says that he is always dizzy and his condition is getting worse and worse. Even though his life is at risk, Israel keeps him shackled to a bed . A doctor from Physicians for Human Rights said

"He has lost 30kg and weighs 60kg. He suffers from stomach aches, vomiting, sometimes with blood, and headaches … His general condition is pale and very weak, his tongue is smooth, he has slight bleeding from the gums, dry skin, loss of hair, and significant muscular atrophy. His pulse is weak, blood pressure 100/75. He is permanently connected to a heart monitor."

As I am writing this, a hash-tag on Twitter about Khader Adnan (#Khader61Days) has trended worldwide, I felt a little bit relieved after I saw people from different countries talking and tweeting about Khader Adnan. However, I am too disheartened that the mainstream media has said a little regarding Khader's cause.  One wonders what if Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was arrested by Hamas and released months ago, was the one who  is hunger striking for more that 60 days? I assure you that the whole world would start talking about that and accuse Palestinians of terrorism.

Khader Adnan's cause reveals the inhumane face of the Israeli occupation. Israel who claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East has been breaking the international laws since the year it came into being sixty years ago. The entire world is watching the suffering of the Palestinian people but has decided to keep their mouths shut and their eyes closed. Khader Adnan, with his strong determination will spread awareness about the Palestinian detainees cause and he will never stay silent.  

Khader Adnan is the new Palestinian legend of the non-violent resistance. He's the Palestinian Gandhi. His only weapon is his empty stomach; his only food is his dignity. We all stand in solidarity with you and all the Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.