FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Respite in Gaza

by KATHY KELLY

Rafah, Gaza.

Late last night, a text message notified us that the Israeli government was very close to declaring that they would stop attacking Gaza for one day. Shortly before midnight, we heard huge explosions, four in a row.  Till now, that was the last attack.  Israeli drones flew overhead all night long, but residents of Rafah were finally able to get eight hours of sleep uninterrupted by F16s and Apache helicopters attacking them.

Audrey Stewart and I stayed with Abu Yusif and his family, all of whom had fled their home closer to the border and were staying in that Abu Yusif’s brother-in-law, who is out of the country, loaned to him.

The family arose this morning after a comparatively restful slumber.  For the first time in three weeks, they weren’t attacked by bombs throughout the night.   This morning, while his wife prepared breakfast, he and the children nestled together, on a mat, lining the wall.  Abu Yusif had a son under each arm, while the youngest son playfully circled his siblings and then fell into his father’s lap. Umm Yusif prepared a mixture of date preserves and pine nuts, served with warm bread, cheese and spices. Her daughter smiled in contentment, while her nephew, her husband and a close family friend talked about the news.

The family isn’t confident that Israel’s attacks will end, nor can they know what Hamas will choose to do, but today residents of Rafah were able to at least begin assessing the damage.  Abu Yusif and his son took us to their home very close to the border.  The house is still standing, –he’ll need to repair broken windows and doors, but he is better off than many of his neighbors whose houses are now piles of rubble.

Very near his home are the remnants of tunnels that are now unusable. A few dozen people picked through the rubble, salvaging wood for fuel.

Young boys carried pieces of wood in remnants of plastic formerly used to cover tomato plants.   An older man told me he is afraid to carry even a piece of wood.  Pointing upward, he explained that the unmanned surveillance planes circle the skies all day.  If it appeared that he was carrying a rocket instead of a piece of wood, he might be targeted for assassination.

Sitting around an ashcan fire, people who had maintained the tunnels tell us that they dream of freedom: freedom of movement and basic human rights.  Every person can dream, but human beings in Palestine can’t dream of anything else but freedom, to sleep without bombing and to live without suffering from extreme stress.  Fida, who translates for us, tells me she has a terrible headache very day, from the stress.  She feels worse at night.  Her little sister is so terrified that she can’t walk a step without help from her mother and sister.

She says that if Israel opens the border there won’t be any need to open the tunnels.  If borders don’t open, people will rebuild the tunnels.

Hussein tells us about a doctor who worked in an Israeli hospital.  The doctor is a Palestinian who lived in Rafah.  The Israeli hospital where he works is about 100 meters from where we sat.  Last week, the Israelis destroyed his home and killed his children. “Why do you destroy my house?” he asks.  He lost his children and his home, but he still works in the Israeli hospital.  “Israel is experimenting with us, using white phosphorous and other new kinds of bombs.”

One man, a teacher, says he hasn’t had one day without sorrow.  He listens to the children he teaches tell many stories about how their homes were destroyed.  He hopes his own child and other children like him can live like other children in the world.  He hopes his son, his only child, will have a better life.

“Show the world we are friendly and we don’t love war,” he tells us.  “Israel forces us to live under these forces.  The war is not only against Palestinians in Gaza.  It is against all Palestinians.  They want us to leave this land, but we can’t leave it. They don’t want us to wake up safe.”

All of the men speaking with us had to leave their homes and find other places to live.

The drones still fly overhead, promising the possibility of further attack.  If Hamas is accused of breaking the cease fire, the people will pay.  Many of these residents who live near the border also fear that if they are spotted anything – even carrying even a stick, the drones overhead will spot them and mistake them for someone carrying a rocket and they will be attacked again.

Abu Yusif examines the damage done to his house.  He tries to fix a broken water heater.  His sons collect a bag of clothing so that everyone in the family can change clothes for the first time in three weeks.  Maybe, just maybe, they’ll have another night of sleep.  And, an even more distant dream, perhaps they’ll return to their homes in peace.

KATHY KELLY, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, is writing from Arish, a town near the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza. Bill Quigley, a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola New Orleans and Audrey Stewart are also in Egypt and contributed to this article. KATHY KELLY is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams (published by CounterPunch/AK Press). Her email is kathy@vcnv.org

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail