Month: January 2009

expanding illegal no-go zones leaves 100s homeless

Imagine being grateful for the chance to return to your demolished home and sift through the rubble, to try to retrieve personal belongings, ID cards and papers, still-useable clothes and pots…

Imagine your house had been bulldozed, you’d been given 5 minutes to leave it, not been allowed to collect any of those cherished possessions, you’d not had the foresight to gather all the most important documents and memorabilia and keep them by the door anticipating such an event, you’d been commanded to run away run to the nearest city or you’d be killed, you’d watched from a distance as the military dozer ate your house, and you’d been too terrified (with reason) of being shot at if you tried to later return and collect belongings …so terrified you didn’t.

That was Manwa and Sharifa, mother and daughter, living in a house just a hundred metres from Gaza’s eastern border. post continues

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yousef shrater

yousef

Remarkably, the staircase in Yousef Shrater’s bombed and burned house is still intact, as are the 14 people that make up the 3 families who were living in the house. Shrater, a father of four, walks over broken cement blocks and tangles of support rods and up stairs laden with more chunks of rubble, Israeli soldiers’ food leavings, and others remnants of a bombed, then occupied, house.

In the second story front room the original window is flanked by gaping holes ripped into the wall by the tank missiles which targeted his house. “They were over there,” Shrater says, pointing just hundreds of metres away at Jebal Kashef, the hilltop overlooking the northern area of Ezbet Abed Rabbo. post continues

ezbet abed rabbo area: remnants of houses and soldiers’ presence

Two of her boys worked to pull pieces of clothing, books, and anything reachable from under the toppled cupboard. Every item is sacred. She led me through her house, pointing out the many violations against their existence, every graffitied wall, each shattered window and glass and plate, slit flour bags –when the wheat is so precious –and the same revolting array of soldiers’ left-overs:spoiled packaged food, feces everywhere but the toilet, clothes used as toilet paper. The same stench.

“They broke everything, broke our lives. That was the boys room,” we continue through the wreckage. “Look, look here. See that?! Look at this!” This is to be the refrain as we step over destroyed belongings into destroyed rooms.

It isn’t only the destruction, defiling, vandalizing, waste… it’s also the interruption of life, a life already interrupted by the siege. She held out school books, torn, ruined, and asked how her children were supposed to study: when they have no books, no power, had to flee their home, are living in constant fear of another bombardment of missiles (from the world’s 4th most powerful and most abundantly-equipped military).

Some of the graffiti reads:

“We don’t hate Arabs, but will kill every Hamas.”

and

“IDF was here! We know you are here. We won’t kill you, you will live in fear and run all your lives!”

For people in families like hers, the surviving members, this psychological terror is real. For those who have been killed already, the “we won’t kill you,” is a lie. Ask the surviving fathers, mothers, siblings, children. post continues

Abed Rabbo area: one family’s story

pants

*Israeli soldier’s trousers, left, shit-laden, in bathtub of occupied house, eastern Jabaliya.

There are many stories. Each account, each murdered individual, each wounded person, each burned-out and broken house, each shattered window trashed kitchen strewn item of clothing bedroom turned upside down bullet and shelling hole in walls offensive Israeli army graffiti…is important.

I start to tell the stories of Ezbet Abbed Rabbo, eastern Jabaliya, where homes off the main north south road, Salah el Din, were penetrated by bullets, bombs and/or soldiers. If they weren’t destroyed, they were occupied or shot-up. Or occupied and then destroyed. The army was creative in their destruction, in their defacing of property, in their insults. Creative in the ways they could shit in rooms and save their shit for cupboards and unexpected places. Actually, their creativity wasn’t so broad. The rest was routine: ransack the house from top to bottom. Turn over or break every clothing cupboard, kitchen shelf, television, computer, window pane, water tank…

The first house I visited was that of my dear friends, who we’d stayed with in the evenings before the land invasion began. Who we’d huddled with in their basement as the random crashes of missiles pulverized around the neighbourhood. And whose father I’d worried non-stop about. After seeing he was still alive, I’d done the tour, from the bottom up. The safe-haven ground floor room was the least affected: disheveled, piles of earth at bases of windows where it had rushed in with a later bombing which caved the hillside behind, mattresses turned over and items strewn… this room was the cleanest, least-damaged.

Upstairs to the first level apartment. Complete disarray. Feces on the floor. Broken everything. Opened cans of Israeli army provisions. Bullet holes in walls. Stench.

To the second floor, next two apartments, all of the extended sons and wives and children’s rooms. More disarray, greater stench. This was the main base, apparently, from the boxes of food –prepackaged meals, noodles, tins of chocolate, and plastic-wrapped sandwiches –and the left behind IOF soldiers’ clothing. A pair of soldiers trousers in the bathtub, soiled with shit. post continues

beneath the surface

My friends and the journalists and cameramen at Ramattan are so good-natured and selfless that I forget many of them have lost their houses, or family members.

Yousef is always impeccably-groomed, and somehow smiling, yet hasn’t had a working toilet since his home in the northwest was destroyed.  “I can’t use the bathroom at home,” he mentioned. “I have to wash here at at work.”  I guess compared to those displaced Palestinians still crammed into cold, bare classrooms in UN and other schools, without water and electricity, Yousef’s situation isn’t so bad.  But can I really imagine my life tumbling out of control, from one day having a lovely home filled with years of memories and cherished belongings to another day suddenly being able to scavenge only a couple items of clothing from the wreckage of my home?  How would I deal with that, with the injustice of it, with being homeless and having to carry on with work and life…? Undoubtedly, I’d be a lot less dignified and personable. post continues

it’s a ceasefire…just not on the beach, not in your home

link: IPS     By Eva Bartlett

ahmed-hassanin

*7 year old Ahmed Hassanin, shot in the head outside his home by Israeli soldiers from Gaza’s eastern border, January 22nd.

On the 5th morning after Israel declared a ‘ceasefire’, Israeli gunboats began shelling, as they had on several mornings since halting the 22 day air and land bombardment of Gaza. The shelling, which began just after 7:30 am off Gaza city’s coast, injured at least 6, including one boy with shrapnel in his head.

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1st views of Attattra, northwestern Gaza

On  January 18, the first day that Israel stopped most of the bombing all over Gaza (navy shelling continues to this moment), after learning that my friend’s father was alive in eastern Jabaliya, I went on to Attatra, the northwest region, which had been cut off since Israeli troops invaded.  As expected, the destruction was great, the death toll high and still unknown.  People streamed in both directions: going to see how their homes had fared or leaving from the wreckage and bringing as many surviving possessions as possible.

“This is our main road,” Yusef said dryly, gesturing at the undulating pavement and sand that served the towns in this region. “There should be houses here. Now there is nothing,” he added, seemingly more to himself than to me. post continues