Strength through adversity !

Every morning at four o‘clock, I get up from bed, before starting university, to fulfill, with as much patience and perseverance as I can bring to life, the task I have assigned myself. I feel obligated to let the world know about the suffering of ordinary people where I live, here in Gaza. Recently, on a beautiful day, I was given the opportunity to meet the wife and children of one of Gaza’s martyrs.

I phoned her beforehand to get her permission. I was concerned she might not want to see anybody, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. With a friendly smile, she welcomed me to her humble home. As I sat down beside her, I said: “I am Rana, and I am here to tell the world your story and to describe how you live after the ugly crime you witnessed. I will also do what I can to share your message.”

At that moment, her little son, crawling on his belly, came towards me. I hugged him and kissed his head. For a moment, I forgot everything and played with the child, his mother joking with me, saying “you can take him with you.” The little boy’s name is Ghaith and he is nine months old. This sweet little child will never share his childhood with his father. He will never bask in his father’s love and affection. All of this was stolen from him.

After I had been playing with the child for a few minutes, the mother, twenty-seven years old, began to tell her story. I just listened, letting her words flow.

Her husband was on vacation from work. Each morning during this time he would visit his mother. On one of these days, back home after seeing his mother, he stood outside picking tangerines for his older son Anas, who was barely three years of age. “Drones were everywhere,” said the woman. Her husband phoned a friend, telling him to come over and collect some money that he was owed. The friend stopped by. As he was leaving, the drones spewed their deadly fire.

The woman fell silent for a few seconds, then added: “I heard the missile, but I didn’t think it had such a strong impact.” But when she went out to see where the rocket had struck she was horrified to see her husband laying on the ground, their son in his lap. Frantically, she started calling her husband’s name: “Mahmoud! Mahmoud! Mahmoud!”

There was no reply. Mahmoud was no longer alive and Anas was crying out in pain. “I held him and screamed for someone to help me.” Some men rushed to the scene and took the boy and his mother to the hospital. Mahmoud’s friend was also killed in the attack.


While we were talking, her third son, Moa‘ath, returning from Kindergarten, ran toward his mother to tell her what happened at school that day. At five years old, he is the eldest child.

“Because of what he witnessed, he suffers from trauma and distress. He shouts day and night,” the mother said.

As she was grieving over her child’s pain, she collapsed into a burst of tears, unable to control herself any longer. I tried to comfort her, but it felt like an almost impossible task. Still hoping to calm mother and son, I asked Moa‘ath what his dreams are for the future. “I want to be in the military”, he said. “I want to avenge my father and my brother.” With childish

innocence, he added: “Before, Israel was good, but now they’re not anymore. They are criminals and I don‘t love them.”


In my previous article, “Child Victims of Israeli Violence,” I mentioned Anas’s injuries as among the most serious of Israel’s gruesome attack on Gaza. The child, who is still in Intensive Care, had an operation to repair twenty-five perforations in his intestines. Ten days later, he was transferred to a hospital abroad, where he underwent a six hour operation to remove any remaining shrapnel fragments. Anas has one more operation ahead of him. Though his condition is still serious, it is stable.

As I wrapped up my interview, the mother expressed her gratitude to God. She called upon God to help her to raise her three children, Moa‘ath, Anas, and Ghaith. I asked her one final question: “If you could send one message to the world, what would it be?” With a strong voice, she replied: “I only wish that Israel gets duly punished for all these cruel crimes.”


The woman’s story is but one among many that illustrates the consequences of Israel’s violent behavior and human rights violations toward the people of Gaza.

Nevertheless, in Gaza, the human spirit desperately grabs hold of determination and self-sacrifice, attempting to deal with the challenge of waiting for sunrise through all the terror-filled hours of darkness. Together, we stand in the river of hope, transformed and transforming, laughing, crying, yet grounded and buoyed by courage and an unfathomable and amazing grace.


As we experience the incomprehensibility of Israeli aggression, we never forget that as our struggle aims to resist and to break the power of Zionist hegemony, our efforts are really about regaining our rights and, ultimately, about obtaining peace.
* Me stand with Moa’ath, Ghaith, and their cousin in the spot where an Israeli drone targeted Abu Moa’ath, his friend, and 3-year-old Anas.


Child Victims of Israeli Violence !

The scene of rain was very beautiful; the lands of Gaza covered with a white colour, the smell of the land fertilizing my soul. Raindrops fell on my face and hair, my eyes went blank, and I stared off, and the sad music started because I remembered the martyrs, the injured and the orphans. There was a patch of blue sky, I raised my hands, and prayed for all.

In the early morning, I went to my university as usual, but afterwards I decided to visit the European Gaza Hospital. I had never imagined it would be such a hassle to enter the hospital and obtain some information. I spent almost one hour without doing anything except going up and down, from one office to another, in order to get the official permission. It was far from easy.

In the latest assault on Gaza, 43 Palestinian children have been killed, and many more injured, by the Israeli war machine. I will try and present an impression of the violence that Palestinian children have been subjected to.

I interviewed a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Ahmed Abu Tu‘aim, who works for 35 hours a week at the European Hospital and the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital. He said it is difficult to describe the situation exactly. I saw a hint of a tear in his eyes when he said this. Then he went on to say that he didn‘t witness all the causalities, because he worked in shifts, with some doctors attending, while others rest in their homes. His main specialization is to diagnose and treat congenital defects in children, as well as to perform other surgical operations.

Dr Abu Tu’aim, due to his specialization, deals with the injured children only if they have abdominal or chest injuries. I asked him what types of injuries were seen during the recent war on Gaza. He replied that there are three types: light injuries, meaning scratches, simple cuts and bruises. In medium type injuries there are tiny fragments and simple burns, but they can also be quite serious, like the injuries of the little girl from the al Nassasra family. The nerve, which feeds the leg, was severely damaged, and her operation took five hours to complete. Her face was also badly burned, but she is doing much better now.

The third and most dangerous type is that of severe injuries. In this case, the child can be either in completely conscious or semi-conscious, and on clinical medical examination there is bleeding in the abdomen, the brain or the chest as a result of the presence of fragments in the body. Additionally, there are often fractures in several parts of the body like the arms and legs.

The injuries of Anas Abu Khater, three years old, fall into this category. Many fragments were found all over the child’s body, and a CT-scan revealed bleeding inside of the abdominal cavity. The patient was immediately taken to the operating room section. He was found to have multiple perforations of the bowels and the stomach. A part of the bowel had to be removed, and the perforations were closed. After the operation, the child was taken to the intensive care department, to be kept under close supervision by the surgeon and sustain his vital functions. Unfortunately, after some time, the situation of the child worsened, and he was transferred for treatment abroad. I wanted to know more about this, but because of security regulations I was unable to obtain all the information. I am planning to visit the hospital again and find out more about these horrible injuries, and if I have the chance I am planning to visit some of the patients in their homes .

Besides killing our children in Gaza, a great number of Palestinian children in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank get arrested by Israel each year. On average, this happens to one or two children per day. Kids as young as the age of 12 are arrested, interrogated and put on trial in Israel military courts.

A family friend who lives and works in Occupied Jerusalem told my father in 2010 that  physical and verbal violence was used against children in detention in 70 % of the cases. Most violent incidents occurred during transportation in the army jeep, or during the long wait at military bases or police stations. The arrested children are often made to wait for hours on end, often with their hands painfully tied behind their backs with plastic handcuffs while blindfolded, deprived of food and drink, and deprived of sleep and access to a toilet.

Back then, I wrote down the testimony of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy: “I was on my way to the grocery store. at the time there were clashes going on between the youths and the army. I tried to flee the area. A vehicle approached me, and in it were four mista‘aravim*. Two of them attacked and cursed me (come here , you son of a bitch !). They dragged me into the jeep and started hitting me ( punching and kicking ) and i felt dizzy. They covered my eyes and put me on the floor between their feet. Then they took me to David HaLevi, and then the mista‘aravim got off the jeep and took me to the Moscovia prison.”

I firmly believe that the proceedings of International Law need to be applied in these cases, and that these should reflect the seriousness of these terrible crimes. More children die as a result of Israeli aggression, than of natural causes. Let us put our minds together, and see how we can restore normality to the  lives of our children. After all, children are the best hope for our future.

*) :  mista‘aravim – Hebrew word used to describe Israeli secret agents dressed up as Arabs

Delegations coming to break the seige !

Today was totally exciting, interesting and more than fabulous. I did my exam quickly to follow the American & foreign delegation in the Palestinian Legislative Council. I called my friend many times to know whether I can enter or not because there is many security policies. I say I have to meet the delegation and do something and I did it. The delegation came to break the siege on Gaza. 

 We went to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s home; he welcomed the delegation being in Gaza and in his home. Pat Sheeban talked about why he has come to Gaza; he is Irish and strongly supports the Palestinian issue. He said what he will see here in Gaza, he will never forget it. I felt a strange feeling among the big delegation and this is the first time I met Ismail Haniyeh in person. Lights from the camera were everywhere, it was really amazing. 

Our Prime Minister talked about the violations and the recent war on Gaza. Israel army targeted the civilians more than military people, they directly targeted the media offices and journalists and their cars. He continued his speech and said it was obvious to show the truth to the world, they tried to fabricate the news but you came to see with your eyes the cruel offensive on Gaza, they also targeted the mosques around 35, hospitals and cars so when we say that Israel commits crimes we do not exaggerate. There was a report about Israel’s crimes but the supporters of Zionists succeed in hiding it. A few weeks ago, the ceasefire was sponsored by Egypt. The problem is not with the ceasefire, but the real problem is that occupation colonizes our land. Our message to all of you is that we want a Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem, we want our people to return to their land, we want to end the occupation and as long as Israel exists that means we all are still suffering. We follow all the European efforts in all directions and that reflects the support for Palestinian. Ismail Haniyeh assures that we are not terrorists, Israel is however. Your message of solidarity is a good step and highly appreciated. The Palestinian issue does not only matter for the people of Palestine but it concerns all the people around the world. Palestine is the only country still under occupation while all other countries have liberation. 

The former of minister of education, Catherin said that she saw more beautiful children in the hospital. She affirms that those children should live a good life and get their education. 
Many members of the delegation asked the Prime Minister: what do you think about the state of Palestine? What is the role of women in the society? He replied: the state of Palestine in this form is only the fruit of resistance. We fight for a state. 138 countries voted for the state of Palestine and only 9 were against us. This means that most of the countries stand beside us and agree on the Palestinian state and now Israel is living in isolation and no longer respected from nations and we are very sorry to those who voted against us and we hope to wake their conscious and be with us. We will never give up on our rights or principles whatever the challenges and whatever the price. During the negotiations between factions (Hamas and Fatah) the occupation increased, Jerusalem Judaist and the siege forced on Gaza. Israel does not want peace and the process of peace. We are not against the peace that ends the occupation and back our rights. 

The Prime Minister highlighted the role of women and he said that a woman has an important role in all sides of life. She is there minister in the Palestinian government, she is there in the educational system and she is there in the judiciary and the executive and legislative. Woman has adjusted to half of the society but raise the other half of the community.

A journalist asked: Do you feel sorry for the Israeli victims who were killed in the last war? He replied: we believe in Islam and Islam sanctifies and respects the human beings but we also have to look to the Palestinian martyrs in the recent war. If you want to compare we lost 178 lives in nearly one week whereas Israel just lost 20. 

Israel first started the war. In 2008, 1500 martyrs and 500 injuries the only one who is to blame and take responsibility for this is Israel. Someone from Ireland expresses his anger and he said: I was very impressed with the size of the destruction that I saw here in Gaza then he asked what your hope in resolving the conflict is? He said: it’s not strange for the people of Ireland who struggle like us exactly and he answered what is sure from it like I see you now are that Palestine will have its own state. You can find the strength and hope in the eyes of children, in the patience of the families of the martyrs, in the willingness of the people and in the international support. The road is too long, but freedom deserves sacrifice. Another question was: what is the kind of aid that Gaza people need? He replied: We need a political support, humanitarian support and also financial support to rebuild the destruction that caused by Israel. I call all nations to come to Gaza and see the people how they are living under suffering and how children re deprived from basic rights. 

The last question was: Do you think the relationship between Hamas and Fatah will be good? He very shortly said: at first in the elections everyone demanded Hamas to participate and when it won everybody denied the results. The division is harmful to the Palestinian cause. When Abbas went to UN we supported him and this is a good step and maybe its a sign to end the division between the people themselves. 

To sum up, we need one state, one country and one nation. As Edward said “A real state needs real work. One state means all the people of this land share and live in one state regardless of religion, race, gender, sexuality, colour, ethnicity, political views etc. we have to be one hand in order to fight this occupation and get our independence”.