Posts Tagged ‘occupation’


3 Facts You Need to Know About the Israeli Attack on Peace Activists on the Gaza Flotilla

June 1, 2010

Our main media organizations have willingly allowed Israeli spokespeople to fill the airwaves with misinformation. Let’s reiterate a few simple facts….

Jonathan Cook


May 31, 2010
It is quite astounding that Israel has been able to create over the past 12 hours a news blackout, just as it did with its attack on Gaza 18 months ago, into which our main media organisations have willingly allowed Israeli spokespeople to step in unchallenged.

How many civilians were killed in Israel’s dawn attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla of aid? We still don’t know. How many wounded? Your guess is as good as mine. Were the aid activists armed with guns? Yes, says Israel. Were they in cahoots with al-Qaeda and Hamas? Certainly, says Israel. Did the soldiers act reasonably? Of course, they faced a lynch, says Israel.

If we needed any evidence of the degree to which Western TV journalists are simply stenographers to power, the BBC, CNN and others are amply proving it. Mark Regev, Israel’s propagandist-in-chief, has the airwaves largely to himself.

The passengers on the ships, meanwhile, have been kidnapped by Israel and are unable to provide an alternative version of events. We can guess they will remain in enforced silence until Israel is sure it has set the news agenda.

So before we get swamped by Israeli hasbara let’s reiterate a few simple facts:

* Israeli soldiers invaded these ships in international waters, breaking international law, and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime. The counter-claim by Israeli commanders that their soldiers responded to an imminent “lynch” by civilians should be dismissed with the loud contempt it deserves.

* The Israeli government approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandoes. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby.

Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

Israel chose to direct its deadly assault not only at Palestinians under occupation but at the international community itself.

Will our leaders finally be moved to act?


“Unoccupied” Israeli Settlements

May 18, 2010

Although more and more people in the West are hearing about illegal Israeli settlements in the media and the problems they are causing for the peace process, most people don’t know that there are reasons other than political and religious ones for occupying someone else’s land.

“Quality of Life” Settlers

This term is used for those Israelis who decide to move to settlements for economic reasons, instead of political or religious ones. They tend to live closer to the Green Line (the internationally recognized 1967 border between the West Bank and Israel).

Ideological Settlers

Israelis who use religious and nationalist reasons to defend living in West Bank settlements—most of these live right in the middle of Palestinian territory and cause the most problems for their Palestinian neighbors.

Ultra-orthodox Settlers

Could be under the category of “quality of life” settlers, because they live in West Bank settlements because of the cheap and segregated (ultra-orthodox only) housing that is close to the Green Line. (Ultra-orthodox housing in Israel is expensive and overcrowded).

Short History of the Settlement Movement

The settler movement was started, as would be expected, by religious ideologists who were and still are fanatically attached to “reclaiming” the biblical Land of Israel as a state for Jewish people. What Israel consists of right now is only a small part of the larger “Land of Israel”—who’s border varies according to which ancient scripture you read but could extend as far as the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Iraq.

Shortly after the settlement movement began, the Israeli government began to heavily subsidize the settlements for political reasons, to cater to settlement leaders and to support the right-wing national-religious groups inside Israel. Ideologically, the subsidization of settlements supported the settlement of key areas in the West Bank that had historical connections in Judaism (including the Etzion bloc) and that were in strategic locations (Jordan Valley and anywhere that is high elevation).

Because there weren’t enough fanatical Israelis to populate the necessary areas inside the West Bank for purely ideological reasons, the government decided to motivate settlers economically. Because of this, a new group of Israelis became  drawn to the settlements because they could find cheap housing, tax breaks, subsidies on transportation, education, etc…

“Unoccupied” Settlements

According to a Peace Now survey, about 77% of the almost 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank said they had moved there mainly for economic reasons. There is a large percentage of these “quality of life” settlers who register themselves with the government as living in West Bank settlements, but who do not actually live there full time.

If you visit some of these types of settlements during the middle of the day, you will find that the schools and streets are empty. There are actually not many people who live there full time. Instead, they enjoy the economic benefits of being registered as living there without the hassle of commuting from Israel to the settlements for work and without the security risk of living in occupied territory.

Palestine Monitor ( is currently working on a story to find out how many settlements are actually inhabited full time. So watch for the story in the next couple of weeks.



Weekly Update—3/7/10

March 7, 2010

This week the Israeli military, police and settlers stormed Al Aqsa mosque…afterwards they boys from the Old City started protesting and throwing stones. There were a couple people injured. When will Israel stop provoking the Palestinians????

Abbas is supposed to be starting negotiations again soon because Mitchell is coming back to the area to force Israel and Palestine to start talking again–despite the fact that settlements are growing at 6% (way more than the natural growth in Israel that is 1.5%) and thousands more housing units in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were just approved. So which side doesnt have a “partner for peace”?

This is how it goes, its all for show. Abbas will throw something back at Israel that he knows they won’t agree to like “Without Jerusalem there are no negotiations”…in the meantime, Israel is just confiscating more and more land and building more and more settlements.

This Friday I didn’t go to the protests. But in Nabe Saleh a 14 year old boy was hit in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet- it hit him right in the forehead and entered his skull. Does that sound like a RUBBER BULLET to you?? A few others were injured as well but not seriously. Didnt hear anything about Bil’in or Ni’lin so they must just be the usual teargas inhalation injuries.

We planned a trip to the Dead Sea for Friday afternoon since everyone has that day off. We were planning to go to the monastery by Jericho thats up on the hill (the place where Jesus was tempted by the Devil after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights). Now there is a cable car that takes you from Jericho up to the top and theres a nice restuarant up there too….

Anyways, we didn’t make it there because we got stranded at this “Israeli beach” on the Dead Sea. The northern half of the Dead Sea is technically in the West Bank, but most of the Jordan valley has been occupied by Israel…besides the city of Jericho the land is unofficially Israeli now all the way down the eastern side of the West Bank. So the good beaches have been occupied by Israelis as well.

So we went to one of those, because the Palestinian beaches dont have showers or anything at them. The one we went to was called “Lido” and is surrounded by like a million Israeli flags–just to make sure people realize its Israeli. ha.

It was really crowded with lots of Israelis, Palestinians, Europeans, Indians/Pakistanis, and Japanese tourists. Haha it was such a random mix of people. We stayed there all afternoon for lack of a car….but at 5 our friends finally came over from the waterfall they were at thats a little before Jericho.

They picked us up and we drove further down the Dead Sea towards Ein Gedi. We stopped right before the checkpoint that leads into actual Israeli territory at the Palestinian beach I went to like 6 months ago–the one infected with West Nile virus, ha, because the official Ein Gedi beach was closed since it was sunset.

So I was pretty much the only one who had made the trek down that steep rocky mountain to get to the beach and I tried to tell them it was a bad idea and that since it was sunset there would be billions of west-nile infected mosquitos…but they wouldnt listen.

I stayed up at this little picnic area right next to the soldiers at the checkpoint while the rest of the group went down in the dark. I was being eaten alive by mosquitos and finally asked my friend who stayed up with me to ask the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint for mosquito repellent.

So he walked straight over to the checkpoint manned with Israeli soldiers armed with M-16s and chatted for a minute. Then they gave him their military strength mosquito repellent and made sure to tell us to “put it on our faces too”. hahahahahaha…one minute they’re pointing a gun at you because your in a Palestinian car and the next they’re worried about you getting bitten on your face. If we could all just unite against a common enemy like mosquitos all the time!

Next weekend I am going to the “Roman cave”…one of my friends knows a Palestinian man who discovered roman ruins on his property, in a cave and under his house. He hasnt excavated or anything. There is a small ministry of antiquities in Palestine but they are really ineffective. Most of the time priceless artifacts are found by people building houses, or whenever they dig into the ground for any reason. I met someone in Bethlehem that has a whole collection of artifacts in the space under his stairs. Haha…he is an engineer and whenever they build he finds new artifacts. I know another guy in Hebron who found a very very old human skull and he keeps it on his desk in his office, sometimes painting it different colors. Who knows how old that is!

The Roman Cave guy (and the others) can’t really get anyone official involved because if they find something valuable and the Israelis find out about it, they will confiscate his land. So we are going to document the ruins and everything, without exposing who he is and where he lives.


Hebron Clashes Over Israeli-takeover of Ibrahimi Mosque

February 23, 2010

This week, the Israeli government assigned two more places in the West Bank “Israeli Heritage Sites”—the Ibrihimi Mosque (or Cave of the Patriarchs, a mosque that Abraham built and is buried in along with his wife Sarah) in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem.

 This is a provocative move from the Palestinian point of view because the sites are in the West Bank, and this action seems to be the Israeli government’s way of claiming these sites for Israel and the Jewish people while denying the Muslim connection to the sites.

 Israeli PM Netanyahu reiterates that this is a way to prove the “Jewish” connection to the land—a point Israel has been trying to prove since its establishment in 1948.

 The sites will now be much more difficult, if not impossible, for Palestinians to access.

 After the announcement and Israeli take-over of the Ibrihimi Mosque, about 100 Hebron youths clashed with Israeli police and military in the streets. They burned tires and threw stones, while getting shot at with teargas, rubber coated steel bullets, and soundbombs.

 Many Hebron shopkeepers closed their shops and declared a general strike in protest of the Israeli action.

 This move by the Israeli government comes at a very sensitive time. Within the next week are three important anniversaries: the Prophet Muhammed’s birthday, the Intifada, and the massacre of around 20 Palestinians by Israeli military while they were praying in the Ibrihimi Mosque.

 These anniversaries make this a very tense and politically and religiously charged time in the West Bank. Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has already called on the Palestinians in the West Bank to start a new Intifada.

 This mosque-takeover could be the spark that ignites the Palestinians, but of course the Israeli government already knows that….


Weekly Update: 2/14/10

February 14, 2010

PA Corruption Scandal

Well, there is a lot of things going on this week…the biggest news is this mass corruption scandal in the PA. Apparently the head of the anti-corruption office in the PA was fired over some petty fight and in reaction he gave a lot of information, tapes and video tapes to an Israeli group who should publicize one piece of corruption a day until Abbas and the PA get their act together and get rid of corruption.

They don’t think there’s anything in it about Abbas specifically but theres stories like someone in the PA in charge of buying land for a project …when he asked for money he put it in dollars instead of shekels (over one million) and kept the difference for himself. And of course there is supposedly a sex tape as well.

Sometimes I can’t decide who is better, Hamas or Fateh? Even though Hamas has its issues, it doesnt coordinate with Israel and it doesnt have the same level of corruption as far as I know. Maybe they would if they could…haha.

PA as Israel’s Enforcer in the West Bank

Anyways I was reading a book a friend of mine’s, Ahmed, brother wrote (half of their family is in Gaza, and he is the one who wrote the story “A story that needs to be told” thats in the ‘notes’ section on my facebook–its about their whole family being split between West Bank, Gaza, and England–without the chance to see eachother) The book–called Remember Gaza– was about the Gaza war. He wrote it from the perspective of someone who has family down there, and can only watch and wait.

Its a really powerful book and it reminded me of some weird things that went on at that time too. There were lots of demonstrations in Ramallah during the war and the PA security would always be there. At first I thought they were participating. But then I realized they were doing ‘crowd control’ to make sure it didnt get to the point where demonstrators went to any checkpoints to throw stones.

Ahmed was telling me the other day that he went with a big group of friends walking one night in the general direction of Beit El (a settlement on the outskirts of Ramallah). He said they were just going somewhere they could drink a beer without getting in trouble (theres lots of fields and land between the settlement and the city).

On the way, some PA army guys came over to them and asked them if they were going to throw stones at the settlement. They said no…but the soldiers kept interrogating them and saying “shame on you for going to throw stones!”. Then they arrested the kids and beat them up a little bit in the police station! This is the PA. And thats why everyone thinks they are collaborators with Israel, Israel’s puppet.

Even my friend who is a captain in the PA is getting fed up with the PA—because after that last incident where the IDF came and assassinated 3 men in Nablus who were at some point associated with the Al Aqsa brigades (but had nothing to do with the settler stabbing)–the PA basically arrested Wajdi and anyone else who was ever associated with the Al Aqsa brigades. They wouldnt let him leave Al Muqata or talk to anyone on the outside. So he just wants to finish the PA now…

“Terrorist Attacks”

There were a couple of “terrorist” attacks on soldiers this week. One for sure was real–a man stabbed a soldier while he was sitting in his jeep. He was arrested afterwards. Then the checkpoints went up all over the West Bank…ha.

A day or two later, there was another supposed attack. But in this case theres no injured or dead soldier, just a dead Palestinian. So I think maybe it was a random revenge attack….because there is usually at least one person killed at a checkpoint ever few weeks. And usually the eyewitness accounts dont match the Israeli official report. Hmmm….?


In Bil’in this week all of the villagers wore Avatar masks to the wall–because in the movie the aliens planet was being colonized by the humans. They are so funny and creative in Bil’in. And next week is their 5 year anniversary of the protests. So I will be going back to Bil’in next Friday for sure…

Nabe Saleh

I went again to Nabe Saleh even though its getting crazier and crazier. But we had a car this week from a friend and everyone wanted to go there instead of Bil’in so I caved to peer pressure, hahaha. Anyways, it was so strange this week.

Since Nabe Saleh started protesting, the Israelis have been setting up new temporary checkpoints around the West Bank and blocking the main roads that go to villages that protest. So we always have to drive for an extra 20 or 30 minutes to get to Nabe Saleh, which is like 15 minutes from Ramallah. Its funny, on the way back from the protest we drive for about 20 minutes and then come around the bend right in front of Nabe Saleh, again. Hahaha….its ridiculous.

So anyways, we drove into the village and there were no soldiers anywhere. We all have teargas masks now–thanks to Israels policy of giving out gasmasks to everyone outside the Green Line–which includes some friends of mine (Palestinian) who loaned them to us. Hahaha… ironic!

We waited for the protestors to come down from the center of the village and I watched from my spot at the gas station as they marched down the road way past where the soldiers usually stop them. Now we were confused! hahaha, what do we do if there are no soldiers? We win???

So they all marched off the road down a valley to get to their land–which is the purpose of the protest–to get to their spring that the settlers took over a month ago.

My roommate and I climbed on the mountain overlooking the valley where they were marching in the direction of the settlement across the highway. On the opposite mountain, there were about 30 settlers sitting and watching the protest. At first they were marching down the hill and we thought they were going to clash with the Palestinians, but instead they ended up making a BBQ. ha.

So the army jeeps pull up on the highway…cars are still driving by through all of this. The villagers make it to the highway but the soldiers stop them from crossing it by shooting LOTS of teargas, the teargas cannon, rubber coated steel bullets and soundbombs.

After a while, the border police drive up in vans for arresting protestors and taking them away. Luckily, no one got arrested!

Eventually, half of the jeeps drove back to the bottom of the road leading out of the village where there is a small checkpoint and watch tower–a little further down than where the protest usually happens on that road.

Then most of the protestors in the valley by the highway moved back up to the road and split the protest in half. After that, we walked back and did a few interviews with some villagers in their house. This family owns some of the land that was confiscated by the settlers. They said one day they went to their land and the settlers were on it making a BBQ and swimming in the spring. The Palestinians asked them what they were doing there and they said, “Oh we just want to swim in the spring sometimes”.

The next time they went to their land the settlers were there again, with shovels–pretending to work on the land. The Palestinian who owned the land asked them to leave. And the settlers came at him with the shovels and threatened to hit him. After that, the settlers were a constant presence at the spring and the villagers can’t use it anymore.

The ‘father’ of their family, because they are the ones who own the land and have the most to be angry about, is not allowed to be in the village at all on Friday afternoons. Hes 60 years old. And the IDF comes to take him somewhere else every Friday.

Its such a messed up situation.

I had some really good videos from the protest but unfortunately I got robbed Friday night in Jerusalem. Someone took my wallet, camera, mp3 and maybe some other things I havent realized yet…


Weekly Update:

January 23, 2010

I’m back at Palestinian Medical Relief Society, writing project proposals. But I just finished writing an article for the Al Jazeera English website!

I have a friend who has been working over there in Qatar with Al Jazeera and he mentioned my name and what I’ve been doing over here for the past year to the person in charge of the ‘focus’ section. She emailed me and asked if I had any ideas for articles since I’m living over here, so I pitched her a few and she wanted me to write about the Iron Wall that Egypt is building between it and Gaza.

It was an interesting topic that turned out to be much more complicated than I originally thought. Also, from the beginning I assumed Egypt was building it because Israel and the US pressured them to, and that it would be horrible for the Gazan people if they closed all the tunnels. After talking to some people in Gaza, I found out that the tunnels are mostly bringing unessential items, and marking up the prices (triple or more). So the Gazan people have lost most of their savings on these products—which are taxed by Hamas. While Hamas can get money, weapons, and people through to make them “stronger” and endanger the Gazan people more—if they get a long range rocket and shoot it at more Israeli cities, then the Gazan people are going to be the ones to pay for that when Israel flattens Gaza again.

Other than that, I’ve just been hanging out with friends, going over to Tel Aviv a couple times on the weekends…and demonstrations…

On Friday I finally went to my first demonstration since I got back. I was thinking I would go to Bil’in but my roommate told me about a new village that just started making demonstrations a few weeks ago—named Nabi Saleh. Its north of Ramallah, on the way to Salfit. So I decided to go there and check it out.

First of all, when we left Ramallah there were some checkpoints set up by the Israelis all over the West Bank meant to keep activists and Palestinians from getting to the various protests. We got to the first checkpoint, which is usually empty, and there were soldiers all over it, stopping all the cars. And the road to Nabi Saleh was blocked off.

So the soldiers motioned to the driver to pull off to the side, and they were pretty aggressive until they opened the door of the service (minibus) and saw there were three internationals in the back waving their passports at them. Then they let us go on…down a different road that would add 45 minutes onto our trip.

So the driver continues, and we get a little tour of the central West Bank. It is really beautiful right now; it’s been raining a lot so everything is turning green. We drove through some really beautiful valleys and saw some cool villages on the way. So it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

We finally made it to Nabi Saleh and we were a little early so we walked out in the fields and watched the soldiers set up the checkpoint outside the city and looked out at the settlement that is built on the village’s land.

Then we went back to the center of the village and started the march to their land. We didn’t get 400 meters (and were still in the village) when the soldiers appeared in front of the march and started shooting out teargas canisters at us. It was really strong and made a really thick cloud of teargas around all of us. I hadn’t been teargassed since before I left in November so I definitely wasn’t ready for that much at once. Everyone ran back towards the center and out of the smoke because the soldiers were still coming forward.

I didn’t know where the soldiers came from or where they were headed because I’m used to Bil’in where there’s a fence between the soldiers and us, and we can escape to the back and get away if we need to. But in Nabi Saleh the soldiers come into the village in small groups and are everywhere, so there’s no safe place.

Since I couldn’t open my eyes, I did my usual find a wall and sit against it with my scarf over my face until the cloud dissipates. It was really strong gas and there wasn’t any wind so I had to blindly walk towards clearer air. I still couldn’t open my eyes so I sat back down again and waited a few minutes. When I opened my eyes finally there were like three journalists filming me! Haha….I’ve done it before too of course, but when you’ve been teargassed really badly you definitely don’t want to be on camera.

Anyways, I looked around and everyone had scattered. I was near an intersection with a cement bus stop so I went in that for cover while I tried to figure out this demonstration. Up the street from me where some soldiers chasing the demonstrators back to the center of the village. Down the street to the right were the Israeli army jeeps and more soldiers. Down the street to the left were some boys from the village throwing stones at another group of soldiers who were on someone’s balcony. They were yelling insults back and forth at each other, and the soldiers would shoot a teargas canister at them every once in a while but other than that it was pretty calm for the moment.

I was with some other journalists from Reuters and AP, who were filming the demonstration, but they left half an hour after the demonstration started. I was still pretty teary from the teargas and a woman from the village tried to convince me to go to her house and recover. I told her I was fine where I was (and relatively safe…haha) but she grabbed my arm and tried to take me out in through the intersection where on my right soldiers were aiming at kids on behind us to the left. I was like “No!” and she was like “It’s ok, no problem.” But after seeing the soldiers aiming their guns at me I somehow released myself from her grip and ran back to my semi safe place at the bus stop. I waited there and had some soldiers run past me shooting teargas and rubber bullets at the boys and some other random exchanges.

Finally, most of the press had followed the other demonstrators and soldiers back to the center of the village while I waited in the bus stop with a few people because the street up to the center was full of soldiers.

While I was sitting there watching everything, some Israeli jeeps brought some soldiers up to a house about a 100 meters from me. They teargassed the house until the women inside came out. (These same women were arrested last week at the demonstration, and to get out had to sign a paper saying they wouldn’t be out of their house from 12-5 on Friday. But after their house filled up with teargas they went out the front door and ran into the 12 soldiers waiting there.

The women started screaming at them for teargassing them in the house. Then it turned into a fight where the women were pushing the soldiers and the soldiers were shoving the women. It got really out of control and their screaming attracted the attention of the rest of the demonstrators who tried to come back down from the center.

But the Israelis shot the teargas cannon and 30 canisters fell on the road between the people coming to help and the soldiers who were fighting with the women. So they continued shoving the women, some fell on the ground and were kicked by some soldiers. Then finally they arrested at least one of them, shoved her in the back of the jeep and drove off with the women and the other demonstrators running after.

Then it turned into a huge brawl because the women were fighting the soldiers and the men caught up so it was like a 100 person bar fight except one side has guns and the other side is women. Ridiculous.

To stun the people into not being able to fight the soldiers kept throwing sound bombs under people so they would scatter. They threw one under my roommate and his ear is all messed up now. They can also send shrapnel and injure people.

So finally the fight broke up because whoever was in charge of the soldiers decided it was getting too out of control so they drove the jeeps up and the soldiers retreated away from the group.

Then the demonstrators went down the hill throwing stones and the soldiers kept retreating and shooting as they got towards the checkpoint. Then gradually it died down and ended.

There were a bunch of people injured through…from being hit and kicked, teargassed, and “friendly fire” –someone got hit with a stone in the head. So he had to go to the hospital but he will be fine.

Anyways, afterwards when we tried to get back to Ramallah the soldiers blocked the main road and were detaining the activists so we took the long way back again to avoid trouble.

Well, that’s pretty much it for this week. Let me know how everything’s going and what’s new!



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.


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.


. . . 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.


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:

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