FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gaza’s New Martyrs

by SAMAH SABAWI

One look at Majda’s face and I felt consumed by her overwhelming pain. For a month Majda has lived on edge, knowing how ill her father was in Gaza and knowing he may die before she would be allowed to enter into Gaza’s closed gates.

Majda told me it was not her father’s death that pained her as much as knowing how worthless his life and his dignity had become, not only to a world that continues to turn a blind eye to Gaza’s misery, not only to the Israelis who have hardened their hearts to the Palestinian suffering, not only to Egypt that continues to act as jailer of Gaza’s population, but even to the Palestinian leaders. His illness was exploited by Fatah and his death was exploited by Hamas.

Majda’s father was in need of kidney dialysis. For a month he was in severe pain. His suffering was prolonged as shortages of drugs and spare parts for equipment in Gaza’s Shifa hospital reached critical levels as a direct result of the imposed siege. If this was not enough for Majda’s father, and for the countless other patients who lingered in the Shifa’s corridors reeking of illness and death, Fatah had called for a strike in the health sector. In other words, medical staff were told by Fatah that they would only receive their salaries if they stayed home.

The decision of Fatah union leaders, representing teachers and health workers, to strike until the end of this year was designed to weaken Hamas’s support base in the besieged strip. However, Fatah’s decision has been criticized by many international observers, as it caused grave harm to Gaza’s medical patients and school children, while failing its objective of weakening the Hamas faction.

Many doctors and teachers heeded Fatah’s call and stayed home. After all, the siege has lead to basic food shortages, and whatever supplies were available in the market were sold only to the highest bidder. No one in his right mind in Gaza wants the risk of losing a salary.

And so, for one long month, Majda’s poor father, who could barely walk from the pain, was shoveled back and forth at Shifa looking for a doctor, looking for a working dialysis machine, waiting for the electricity to come back on, waiting for a shipment of medication to arrive. Without working elevators, he was carried around from floor to floor by his desperate sons. Majda cried at how little dignity this whole process had given him.

Majda’s father’s death is another reminder of the ongoing brutality of the siege that has kept her and her family apart for years. It is a reminder for her that the lives of those she loves in Gaza is under constant threat. It is a reminder that even under the most dire humanitarian situations, she is prevented from entering Gaza to see her family and they are prevented from ever coming out. It is a reminder that we have all failed to intervene to stop the wholesale destruction and collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in the world’s most densely populated strip of land.

Majda wept and her words came out broken: “Where else in the world do you have more than one million people locked up with little food and medicine and with no visitation rights?”

As I offered Majda my embrace, I thought of my own family in Gaza and I wondered whether my children will ever see their grandparents again. I wondered what it is that their loving grandparents have done in their life to be treated with such cruelty, so as to be deprived from the joy of being united with their first born son and their grandchildren?

Many families who are faced with an ailing father or a dying mother in Gaza are taking risks these days, paying suspicious gangsters and black market merchants a hefty fee so they can use the dangerous underground tunnels to travel from Egypt into Gaza – just to reunite with their loved ones. Others, like my family, are following the news daily looking for rays of hope that this siege will be lifted.

When Majda’s father died, the most that the Hamas officials in Gaza could do for him was to offer to burry him in Gaza’s new cemetery – they named it the Cemetery of the Martyrs of the Siege. When Majda told me that, she smiled with a bitterness I have never seen before – a kind of infectious bitterness that ran through my veins. I understood just what she meant.

There is no solace in the fact that another father, son, mother, loved one is killed by the siege. Death by neglect, death by malnutrition, death by poverty, death by medicine shortages or death by any other means is death. Naming the dead martyrs brings little comfort to their loved ones. An Arab poet once said “We died until death grew sick of us”. I wonder when will death grow sick of Gaza?

SAMAH SABAWI is a Palestinian-Canadian writer. She can be reached at: samahsabawi@hotmail.com

 

 

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail