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Seven Days from a Gaza Diary– Part Two:

January 19, 2010

In December 2008 and January 2009, Khulood Ghanem, a 27 years old girl, kept a diary and described the ordeal in Gaza during the Israeli military assault. The diary was adapted by Edward Mast into a performance for three voices entitled Seven days from a Gaza Diary. Ed interspersed segments of the diary with excerpts from various human rights organisations that “corroborate” or otherwise relate to the diarist’s entries. Palestine Monitor has decided to publish Khulood’s diary into episodes.

SEVEN DAYS FROM A GAZA DIARY

a performance for three voices adapted by Edward Mast from the diary of Khulood Ghanem, Gaza, 2008-9

VOICE 2: from Amnesty International:
In many cases, the pattern of destruction suggested that the aim was to cause sufficient damage to put the properties out of use rather than to destroy arms caches, as the kind of damage inflicted would have neither destroyed weapons or rockets – if any had been there – nor impeded their retrieval. What is more, the bodies recovered from under the rubble of these houses were of civilians – not armed fighters.

VOICE 3: second day

I continued working and cleaning in the house. I turned on the radio cause there was no electricity. I heard about the attack to one of the mosques in Beit Lahia city, 5 were killed in it. I lost my mind, wondered why did they target the mosque, it is a place for worship, what kind of attack is this? I started to worry cause our house is not far from one of the most famous mosques in Khan Younis. The distance is about 30 meters. The bad thoughts filled my mind. I started to draw a picture for the next attack.

I started to calculate the distance. How far? How long? Many many thoughts. I went toward the outside door of our house and stayed there for 1 hour, trying to imagine what could happen if the attack was from the left or the right or maybe from the front and finally from the background. I tried to get rid of these thoughts.

I talked to my father about that mosque in front of our house. He tried to make me feel better but I did not. I told him that we should leave the house till the end of the war, cause they finished the governmental places and they threatened by targeting the schools and the hospitals. My father told me that there is no reason for targeting the schools and the hospitals, I told him why not? They attacked the mosques so there is no problem to attack every thing. His face was yellow.

He ended this conversation with me and left the place. After one hour from our discussion, we heard again about targeting the mosque that was located in front of the Al Shefa hospital. It was ten meters far from it. That means that we are in the waiting list, but when? No one knows. I ran to my father asking him to leave the house, they are crazy and they will attack everything. He told me leave the house if you want, this is my house and I will die here.

VOICE 1: from Amnesty International:

The patterns and scale of the attacks, statements by Israeli officials before and during the three-week military offensive, and graffiti left by Israeli soldiers on the walls of Palestinian homes which they took over during their incursion into Gaza, indicates that the wholesale destruction was to a large extent deliberate and an integral part of a strategy at different levels of the command chain, from high-ranking officials to soldiers in the field.

VOICE 2: third day

I waked up feeling so tired, and I remembered that we haven’t any gas for the burner and I missed the breakfast meal. You have to eat with all at a specific time, whether you were hungry or not because my brother decided to burn some wood twice daily: the first for breakfast and the second for supper. So I can’t miss any one of them. As a result I decided that depending on sandwiches will be better than living under the mercy of my brother’s fire, especially for me as I had a different program in my sleeping every night.

I began my day with a cheese sandwich, after a short time I convinced my brother to burn some wood so as to drink something hot, and of course he did. We were afraid to burn wood in the front yard of the house because of the zanana, the exploratory army plane which is overhead 24 hours daily. It takes accurate photos and it has no pilot. The sound of this plane can lead you to insanity, it was so noisy and it was hard to spend all your day and your night listening to such plane, so all of us were praying for god to stop this plane for ten minutes only.

VOICE 3: from a Human Rights Watch report, June 30 2009

Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups have reported a total of 42 drone attacks that killed civilians, 87 in all. In the six cases documented in the report, Human Rights Watch found no evidence that Palestinian fighters were present in the immediate area of the attack at the time. None of the civilians killed were moving quickly or fleeing the area, so the drone operators would have had time to determine whether they were observing civilians or combatants, and to hold fire if they were unable to tell the difference. In three of the cases, drones fired missiles at children playing on rooftops in residential neighborhoods, far from any ground fighting at the time.

VOICE 1:

. . . I decided to help my mother even though I did not have the mood to do anything, but I preferred leaving my bed instead of surrendering to illness. I went to the kitchen and cleaned the place, washing the dirty dishes, waiting for the electricity. After a long time, they switched on the electricity and we started to bake the bread.

I stayed sitting beside the electrical cooker to have some warmth because we can’t switch on the radiator with the oven at the same time. We were busy and working hard and suddenly I heard a strong attack, the electricity was turned off and the ground moved under our feet, we heard loud voices and within a few minutes we heard the ambulances. I ran and opened the outside door.

The street was full of people, they were running toward the target to save and help if it was needed. My father left the house and walked with the others. I shouted to him to make him come back, I expected another attack because they used to target the same place twice and I was so afraid and shouted a lot but he did not reply. In a few minutes they targeted an empty area not far away from the first target. I stopped for a while. I could hear nothing, I could listen to nothing. I stayed in my place.

My mother ran toward me asking me about my father. I lost my ability to answer. She started to cry. I could hardly move my legs and sat on the ground beside the wall. I thought that my father has gone and I will never see him again. For a moment my mind stopped and I felt with many different feelings, the wheel of life stopped and I couldn’t move my body. I stayed in my place for half hour. The noise outside the house ended and we no longer heard the sound of the ambulances. Suddenly, I saw my father’s shadow. I opened my eyes and lost the ability to speak.

He came quickly and helped me to stand up. “What is wrong? Are you ok?” he said. I told him to take me to my bed cause I felt disabled in my legs. He helped me to reach my bed. He put 2 blankets on me. My temperature of my body increased and I was bleeding water from all parts. My father brought medicine for me, I took it and slept 3 hours, did not feel a thing, I couldn’t express how much fear I had at that moment and when I remembered what passed in such moment I could hardly believe that I got ok.

VOICE 2:

After I woke up I asked my dad about the attack. He told me that they targeted a house of one of Hamas members and destroyed it completely. Two were injured, 3 were killed. After that I moved to the television. The first news I heard was targeting the Islamic university in Gaza. So we can say that they started the second step of war as they said that the first step will target all the government and civil buildings and the second will target the health and educational sector, the third will destroy the infrastructure and target the economic side and finally the assassinations and the wanted people.

I heard also that the number of martyrs reached 350 and the number of injured reached 1650. I stayed two hours watching the news from channel to channel. My brother started to burn the wood to prepare some tea. I sat beside him looking to the fire for long time. He prepared sandwiches and we gathered around the fire. We were silent. My sister started to make fun to break the ice between us, she said what if it was the last supper. I replied that she reminded me of the famous portrait and we began to talk and laugh. She asked every one, if it was the last moment for you what would be your wish? I discovered that all of us have no wishes except having the mercy and forgiveness from god.

We finished and went to prepare the place to sleep. Each one took his usual place. I asked my mum to sleep beside me and when she got tired she could leave. Then she came and slept beside me. Another night of fear and nightmares. I remember this night was the most violent as they started to attack from the sea. All of us stayed awake till the dawn. We prayed and began a new day.

Note on Seven Days from a Gaza Diary

This performance piece for three voices is adapted from an actual diary kept during the Israeli assault on Gaza 2008-9. The diary was written in Arabic and the diarist herself, Khulood Ghanem, translated the first seven days into rough but clear English. This adaptation retains many non-grammatical usages common to Palestinians speaking English as a second or third language, though correcting and clarifying when necessary. Somewhat less than half the original diary text for those seven days has been used.

Khulood Ghanem was trained as an architect and now works for a women’s program at an international agency in Gaza. In March 2009, Khulood volunteered to help with translation for a CodePink Women for Peace delegation that managed to get into Gaza for International Women’s Day. Two of the delegates — Tacoma WA resident Linda Frank and Canadian-Israeli Sandra Ruch — learned of the existence of Khulood’s diary, and they asked Khulood for permission to read the diary and to make it public. After receiving translated sections, Linda Frank brought playwright Edward Mast into the process to adapt the text for performance.

More questions or information:

Linda Frank – workforjustice@comcast.net

Edward Mast – edwardmast@aol.com

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