24 August 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza
Israel’s latest round of attacks on Gaza has made it too dangerous to demonstrate in the buffer zone. The people of Beit Hanoun do not demonstrate because they want to die, they demonstrate because they want to live. They want to live in dignity, they want to be able to farm their lands, they want to be able to return to their grandfather’s lands. On Tuesday we did not march into the buffer zone. We had Iftar at the house of the ezkadenia. The ezkadenia is small fruit that I have never seen outside of Gaza. This is the house where I remember Vittorio before he was killed. He was draped on a hammock, smoking his pipe, drinking tea and trying to stay out of the sun. We were planning our return to the buffer zone, vowing that we would not give up. Vittorio, we have returned to the buffer zone, we have not given up.
We did not gather here just to have Iftar, but to plan, to remind ourselves why we struggle. Local farmers from the buffer zone had been invited, both so that they could meet us, the International Solidarity Movement, and the Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun which spearheads the demonstrations against the buffer zone in Beit Hanoun. Over a meal of chicken and rice we explained to them what we did, and they told us about their lives.
Abu Alaa told us how the Israeli’s have three times destroyed his trees, his crops. Each time, he replants. He will not give up, it is his land, much of it too dangerous for him to farm, or even to visit, but nonetheless it is his land and he will not give it up. He asked me to feel his head, there was a crease in his skull, he had been shot in the head by the Israeli’s. He has actually been shot three times by the Israeli’s. Still, he does not quit. He has ten children, they must eat, he must pay for weddings and university. For this he needs his land. For this he needs the buffer zone to disappear. We met his son, Hussein, an English student in university. We looked over the balcony into the distance, at the buffer zone, the farthest light that we could see was Abu Alaa’s house.
Our struggle against the buffer zone is a struggle for dignity, for the right of people to live and work on their land. Nobody in Gaza wants to live on charity; they are forced to by the siege, by the occupation, by the Nakba. Most of the people of Gaza are refugees, forced from their land in 1948, they do not want to live on charity, they want to return to their homes, to their grandfather’s olive groves and orange trees, to their grandfather’s shops and factories. This is what we struggle for, for the right of people to live in dignity on their land.