• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
Howie Hawkins
Does the Climate Movement Really Mean What It Says?
Gary Leupp
Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants
Jill Richardson
Climate Change was No Accident
Josh Hoxie
Debunking Myths About Wealth and Race
David Barsamian
Iran Notes
David Mattson
Social Carrying Capacity Politspeak Bamboozle
Christopher Brauchli
The Pompeo Smirk
Louis Proyect
Trotsky, Bukharin and the Eco-Modernists
Martha Burk
Will Burning at the Stake Come Next?
John W. Whitehead
The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops in America
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail