FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gaza’s New Martyrs

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:

November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail