Three children, large brown eyes, one with a curly mop of hair and bright pink shirt. Piled beside each other, they sit solemnly, grasping the gravity of the moment. While they are too young to understand death, at a very early age, like all Palestinian children, they are surrounded by it. From a tender age they learn the rites of mourning, see mothers sobbing, then hollow, then sobbing. Intuitively, they are not running and playing, not screaming for attention. They watch, they learn, and soon they lose and understand the pain of the mourners.
This martyr was 22. His brother was killed in January of this year. His mother sits bravely, then breaks down, then collects herself, then breaks down. The first must have been hard. The second?
Those children, they sit beautiful like any child. They are the future dead. It is hard to see life, when someone they know is dead, injured, or imprisoned.
Media shows and tells us of angry Palestinians, angry Arabs. Sitting in the mourning room, I see despair. Fatigue. Heavy, heavy, suffocating grief. And hopelessness.
What is there to hope for? Their sons are dying from Israeli incursions and targeted assassinations, if not ‘collateral damage’; their sick are dying, unable to get the medical supplies or care they need; their children are starving slowly from malnourishment, 80% of the population being dependent on food aid. Their wall is solid and imprisoning. And their Arab brothers open their gate only with the nod from Israeli, the U.S., the west…
The most elementary task of life becomes gargantuan under siege, without power, without gas. How to cook, when gas has stopped flowing and wood is scarce?
Jaber is lucky: his olive and fruit trees were razed, his land destroyed, by Israel, along with his chicken barn. So he has ample amounts of wood to burn, though it burns bitter.
Hisham is lucky: he has food, a safe, clean, and warm apartment. His eye, shot out by Israeli soldiers in the 1990s, has never healed, though, and he cannot wear the glass eye because of the pain it causes him in his scarred socket. But he is alive, and his children are fed.
Osama is lucky. He was finally able to enroll in university and will sit his exams in the coming days, although just started. He is lucky that his high school education was top-notch and so catching up in first year university is easy. He’s less lucky that he had start university anew, after spending two years in Egypt on what had been a full scholarship but which was cut off by the PA, inexplicably, leaving him stranded in a city of immense poverty. And his months-long wait to re-enter Gaza only took away more precious time and hope.
Abed is lucky: he is back in Gaza with his parents near by. His saucer-sized ulcer on his back is slowly healing, his leg ulcer in much, much improved, although in Egyptian hospitals with no incentive to the doctors and nurses, the sores grew worse, unattended…He is happy to be back with his family, and maybe in time he will be able to begin the process of finding a surgeon who would operate on his bullet-shattered vertebrae, so that he could at least sit in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He’ll never get justice, never see his Israeli sharp-shooter penalized. But he will live. Unless his rehabilitation centre or home are bombed.
This family, with the girl in a pink shirt, is but one of four families, today’s martyrs. Yesterday, there was another killed, a few days ago 4 more, last week 7…
A few days ago, before the first group of 4 were killed, the border had possibly been about to open, with tremendous pressure from human rights groups. Hopes lifted, rumours circulated: open borders would allow in much-needed gas, oil, and food aid. But then coincidentally, just after 10 am, Israeli special forces entered Gaza at al Garada, a neighbourhood northeast of Khan Younis. The incursion was met by resistance, who fought back and died. With the four martyrs some days ago, the ground was set for retaliation, which will, alone, make the headlines, in lieu of the incursion, the shahiid.
A young bride, their 2 month old baby…a sister distraught as though she’d lost her own husband…many elderly, who’ve lived through the dispassion of their land once, twice…and an occupation, and a military occupation which continues….
solar powered seed drier, shot-up during Israeli army invasion
house wall shot by invading Israeli army
well pump destroyed during Israeli army invasion, water stagnant and un-useable
a working chicken farm, with 3,000 chickens, destroyed in May 2008 by invading Israeli soldiers.
Jaber and his family, relating the May 2008 invasion when his land and livelihood were destroyed.