I am sorry my reports have been slow. Sometimes it is so hard to find the words to write about the things that I see everyday in Rafah. In the last two weeks there have been seven assasinations in the Gaza Strip. These are done with missles that are fired from F16s. Sometimes as many as seven missles are fired in one assasination, killing innocent bystanders, and destroying shops.
Last night I stayed at Abu Ahmed’s house. His daughter is getting married today, and the whole house feels the excitement. His neighbor Abu Fati invited us over for tea, so we went. We sat with his whole family for about an hour, and I talked with his daughter who is trying to learn English. While we were there we heard several tanks drive by the border, sometimes shooting. When we left, we noticed that there was no one out in the street. We heard a tank drive by, and cautiously walked toward Abu Ahmed’s. After a few steps, the tank opened fire in our direction. We darted back, and waited until it continued on. Back at Abu Ahmed’s I could feel my heart racing. This is what the people of Rafah face everday when walking in their neighborhoods, to school, or the store. It is so hard for me to imagine, even living here, what it must feel like to own the house that is being shot at every day, or not be able to leave like I can. The tank continued to fire at Abu Ahmed’s house all night, for about five minutes every hour. The sounds of rapid machine gun fire have been incorporated into all of my dreams.
Several days ago our group went to the nearby city of Khan Younis to visit the shahiid tent of an eight year old girl who was shot while playing next to her house. A shahiid tent is a tent that is put up for three days after someone is killed by the Israeli military. The family welcomes guests to pay their respects. We went inside, and spoke with the mother and sisters of Aisha (the shahiid).
The morning that Aishe was shot, she had been fasting with her mother. She grew hungry, and her mother gave her some money, and told her to go buy crackers and juice, as she was so young, and needs to eat. Aisha went on her bike to the store. On her way back she stopped to play with several children right outside her home. Their house is right next to an Israeli settlement, which is guarded fiercly by towers and tanks.
Aisha’s mother told us that the tanks open fire frequently on the children who play in the street. There were no adults in the area, yet on this day they opened fire again, sending live bullets through the young body of Aisha, killing her, and seriously wounding several other children. Could these eight year olds be armed resistence fighters? Aisha was the pride of her family. She got 98% on all her tests in school, and Aisha’s sister says that anyone who knew her would have given their life for her. She died because she lives in an Occupied land, where soldiers are so afraid of children that they stay inside their huge tanks while shooting at anything that moves.
I am afraid that if the Israeli soldiers in Rafah never leave their tanks, their fear will grow until nothing will ever stop them from murdering all innocent children they see. I want these soldiers (who are people caged inside their weapons), and the people of Rafah who caged inside Rafah by the soldiers, all to stop living in fear. The only way to live without fear is to live in justice and peace, without Occupation.
All of my love,