A story from Maghazi Refugee Camp, central Gaza
by: Rami Almeghari
It was just after 1am when the Israeli jeeps and tanks, backed by war planes, invaded Maghazi, telling the story of Palestinian refugees anew. It is a story that not only pacifica radio, but all of us who live in Maghazi, know already, having seen it repeated again and again in Gaza. Less than one hour before, the Washington Based Pacifica had phoned me about doing a live interview about Maghazi camp in central Gaza, where I live. I laid down my head on the pillow, under darkness because there is no electricity, in order to have some peace of mind before the live interview the next day.
War planes began shooting heavily overhead. Abruptly, I rushed to my children beside me, waking them up and taking them downstairs in case of any stray bullets hitting from above. My mother was crying, my father was worried, my sister listening to newscasts.
In the darkness, everybody has been anxious, with kerosene lamps showing their wary faces and hushed voices.
My six year old son asked me, “Dad, will i be able to be in the second grade at school?”, as we got the news that Israeli war planes had dropped a missile on his school. The Palestinian News Network reported that this bombing killed one Palestinian cilivian and injured 20 others, who were all children. He noted that all of the children were transferred to a nearby hospital, where nine are being treated for “serious injuries.”
This morning’s raid marks what is merely the latest in a series of Israeli attacks on the Gaza refugee camp. Since Israeli attacks began on Maghazi Camp just a few days ago, eight civilians have been killed, and a staggering 90 have been wounded.
My eight year old daughter sat on the sofa, awake all night looking at me with frightened eyes, her face yellow and pale. I was worried about my brother and his children (like many refugee families, we all live together in one house), so i went upstairs to wake them up. I found my brother sleeping on the roof, due to the hot weather under darkness.
Unfortunately, I was sorry to break his rest, because the sky was raining in such a summer night, but an Israeli-made ‘Summer Rain’ [The Israeli military code-name for their ongoing Israeli invasion in the Gaza Strip is ‘Operation Summer Rains’].
Now, the whole family has been crowded in one small, much safer room, listening quietly to the summer rains and to my mother’s cries, which I tried to dry, but in vain. Because she was so worried, lest her other son, who was out with friends, seeking summer breeze and summer air, get wet by the ‘summer rains’ that have started to fall on Maghazi.
From 1 am to 9:30 am as I write this, the ‘summer rains’ have been falling, making a flow that has swept away six lives, wounded several others, devastated the camp’s transformer, hit a wall of my son’s elementary school, and inflicted damage to many homes and buildings.
My fear, as well as my family’s, is the same as that of thousands of Palestinian refugee families throughout the past six decades starting from 1948, 1956, 1967, and ending with 2006’s latest invasion of Maghazi and other refugee camps since june 27th.
However, Palestinians in the past century have found safe shelters to which they have fled. It now seems we have only one choice — staying in our homes under candlelight. This is the story of Palestinian refugees. Now, in the 21st century, I ask Israel — where else do you want us to go? It seems that you just want us all to die, and no one in the world seems to care.
I am writing this by pencil, on used paper, I can no longer type on my computer. The electricity is fully gone, the backup systems have all been hit. I have to dictate my writing by cell phone to a friend in the West Bank who can type it up – but soon, most likely, my cell phone reception will be gone as well. Now I have heard that two of my relatives were killed in the ongoing attack…..I’ll have to attend their funerals this afternoon. Will Israeli forces attack the funeral? Lately every time there is a funeral, their warplanes buzz overhead, dropping bombs on the attendees and making more funerals necessary. I just hope the next one will not be my own, or that of my dear, dear children.