19 August 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza
Israel’s price tag campaign is not waged only by the settlers in the West Bank; it is also waged against the people of Gaza. It isn’t exactly clear what the Gaza Strip is paying the price for. In contrast to Israeli propaganda, people are killed in Gaza all the time. This has been a bloody week. An 18 year old mentally disabled man was shot to death on Tuesday, another young man was shot in the leg on Tuesday. Perhaps the price must be paid simply for existing.
Overnight Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza. Nine people have been murdered in Gaza since yesterday. 13-year-old Mahmoud Abu Samra was one of the killed, he and 18 others were injured in one bombing attack in Gaza. The Abu Samra family lives near the former intelligence services headquarters in Gaza City. Their house was destroyed by an Israeli bomb last night at 12:30 A.M. Their house was completely destroyed, one of their neighbors houses was also destroyed, one more, heavily damaged. Thirteen people from three families live in these houses. All of these families are refugees, expelled from their homes in 1948, and now, in a repeat of history, once again their houses are destroyed. When we arrived family members were picking through the rubble, trying to salvage what could be salvaged.
The Abu Samra house was completely destroyed. All that is left standing is a bathroom with the door torn off, a sink, and a broken mirror in it. Mahmoud is dead, the latest causality in the Israeli assault on Gaza. Neighbors and relatives pick through the remains. A shattered computer monitor sits on a pile of rubble. Israel bans the import of concrete into Gaza, so the house will probably live on in another house after the rubble is recycled. Mahmoud is dead, he was buried today.
Next to the Abu Samra house is the Al Helal Sporting club. It is one of the few places for young men to hang out in the neighborhood. When the bomb hit it was packed with young men trying to escape the heat, entertaining themselves playing football and watching TV. Many of the injured were young people from the neighborhood at the club.
We spoke to Seham Awad, a forty five year old mother of two. She and her nephew were picking through the rubble. Thankfully, her son is away at university studying, her daughter is married and no longer lives with her. Her ex-husband is in an Israeli prison, seven years into a twelve year sentence. She is unemployed and lives on charity and help from her neighbors. She is a resourceful woman though, her backyard, maybe 25 square meters, has been turned into a garden. It is overhung by a shattered trellis for passion fruit vines. She grows vegetables on the rest of her land, in old tires that have been turned into planters, on every square meter of land vegetables grow. Her house is small, only two rooms, now both destroyed.
Her house was also destroyed during Cast Lead, she received no help rebuilding, only some mattresses and household supplies. She lives without windows; only sheets cover the holes in the walls that would be windows. Perhaps, this was lucky last night, there was no shattered glass to cut her. After the attack, she slept in the garden, on mattresses placed in the back corner. She is undefeated, after her house was destroyed in Cast Lead she rebuilt as best she could, concrete blocks, an asbestos and tin roof, and no windows. She expected that her house would be destroyed again, she was right. As she said, “I expect little from life, I planted this tree, now it is big, it provides shade, that is enough.” When asked what she would do now, where she would go, she said, “I will stay here, I will rebuild again as best I can, where else can I go?”
Her neighbors, the Abbas family was not so lucky. Their father, Abu Akmed was injured in the bombing. This family too is picking through the rubble, praying for their father. Their home, heavily damaged was all that they had. In the back a horse still lives in a small shed. Abu Ahmed, like most men in Gaza, had no job–they’re just simple refugees trying to rebuild their lives. Nine people crammed into a small concrete block house, now, mostly destroyed. Out their front door you can see the old security headquarters in Gaza, heavily bombed during Cast Lead and now abandoned.
Behind the Abbas family lives Hajjer Abu Duwani. She is a fifty five year old mother of twelve. She is a small woman; she looks older than her years. She doesn’t really have a house, just two tin sheds that she lives in. A chicken coop takes up one end of her land; on the rest of it she tries to grow vegetables. She has no job; she depends on the help of her children to live. Shrapnel from the bombing hit her. She has an ugly hand sized bruise on her leg, another bruise on her arm, and her head was cut with shrapnel. She is happy, at least she is alive, Mahmoud, her thirteen year old neighbor is dead, the houses of her other neighbors destroyed.