Saturday, December 22, 2007

from my notebook part2( we suffer together , we leave together.


Light through the wall

RAFAH, Gaza Strip:

Life in Rafah, Gaza's southern-most city, has always been difficult. But the period since March 2006 has been the worst in my 25-year life. Israel placed Gaza under a siege after Hamas won the Palestinian elections and tightened the siege after Palestinians captured an Israeli soldier near Rafah in late June 2006. We have had little electricity, fuel, money, food or medicine since.

We felt some hope last week, however, when Palestinians knocked down the wall that Israel built along Rafah's border with Egypt, allowing us to escape our prison and cross to Egypt to buy essential goods.

The Israeli Army has destroyed about 2,000 homes in Rafah in the last seven years. In January 2004 they demolished our home. My grandmother, aunt, uncles and cousins had gathered in our house because their homes had just been demolished. Then an Israeli bulldozer started destroying our home. I helped my grandmother because she has trouble walking. My mother passed out, so I dragged her to a safer place. That day Israeli bulldozers destroyed 50 homes in our neighborhood.

When the siege intensified in late June 2006, my family and I were trapped for 14 days along with 4,000 Gazans at the Rafah border crossing trying to enter Gaza from Egypt, because Israel had closed the border. We had little food or water. Nine people died. Finally, armed men from Gaza broke the border wall, allowing us to return home.

But the last months have been the hardest, with the borders sealed, growing poverty, dwindling supplies of food, medicine and other goods, and parts of Gaza without electricity due to lack of fuel. Israel's military kills Palestinian fighters and civilians almost daily.

We are waiting for our destiny. Slow death or fast death, it's the same result. Last week eight-year-old Huda from Rafah told me, "I have kidney problems and need to visit the hospital three times a week, and now the Israelis are threatening to shut off the electricity. That means I will die."�

Many times, I've said my heart must be stronger. I stopped every voice that told me that I can't write, that said people will not understand me; I've stopped every fear that says things will never change, because there are always ways to live and to change. My people have a great deal of courage, but what is happening is very hard.

I am no longer the person I was before these experiences. When the Israelis kill innocent people, they turn the children of those killed into different people. It is not hard to guess whether these will become kind children, or sad children ready for revenge.

Still, when I look at our children, I somehow feel everything will change for the better someday. Every one of us can change things in small ways and make the sun shine, even in a dark box like Gaza.

Three a.m. on Jan. 23rd was a moment of victory. Rafah's wall on the border with Egypt was gone. I could barely wait to see it. I wanted to see the smile on every Palestinian face that has been missing for a long time.

Yes, my children, now you can see Egypt. The wall is gone, and one day all the walls will be gone.

Nine-year-old Amal and 11-year-old Yasmine told me, "Remember when we told you it's our dream to see Egyptian children, play with them and see Egypt? We went there and bought sweets and chips, but we didn't see children."�

Mohammed, 22, from Rafah, explained, "It doesn't matter who destroyed the wall, Hamas or Fatah. It was rubbish the Israeli army left behind. I hope the crossing will be opened to movement in a legal way, not like this."�

When I visited the United States in 2006, people asked why Palestinians voted for Hamas. Some in the Palestinian Authority were corrupt. They lost people's trust. The U.S. government sent observers to monitor our elections and accepted Hamas's participation. Hamas won democratically. For years Hamas built social infrastructure and improved people's daily lives. Hamas needed to be given a chance. Instead, the world punished us.

I think that if ordinary people in the U.S. and Europe knew what was happening to ordinary Palestinians, they would be more compassionate. We need food, water, homes, work and access to the world. We need justice. And when ordinary Palestinians have justice, there will be peace.

Tragedy and the loaf of bread
These swings were in our house store , and these swings were not used or investor . During this situation , I had an idea to use them to have our living, and you can see the children are very happy. If the situation changed and siege, I will develop this idea and these swings, under the siege I did not have any income and I barely get a loaf of bread for me and my family, I considered this idea and this project a gift from God to me and my family, and the children here, I did not work , and I stopped for a period of ten days, when children started their exams at schools to not affect them and their studies,

I'm a father 38 years old, the effects of the blockade was comprehensive and strict. Effects on children studies, and crossings, and what to say? Presidents are those who have experience in these things more than me saying. But I live this tragedy every day. I wish from the people in the world look at Palestinians, and the workers who do not get any salaries now, and who do not work , my idea is very distinctive but not enough to support whole family, we are powerless, and underdogs .In the siege , I and my family eat one meal daily as a result to keep up with this situation , and thanks God for this idea, which was welcomed and accepted from children and their families .

This project is simple if it compared with being without work , there are more than 70% of these children are unable to pay for the games , due to the exorbitant cost of living , my tragedy is that im saving money for a week to buy sack of flour, but I have not completed the amount to buy the flour sack or the cost of living, and now we hear that the crossings will be closed permanently . if thorn in xxxx dog leg, xxx will not sleep until his dog becomes safe ,but if rocket in Palestinian child leg xxx will be very sad and will not sleep his night to think why this rocket is not in his head. and he will say Israel is very kind because of this kind rocket made in USA.

These are children????

Amal : 10 years old ( Amal means Hope)
I hope that life will become sweet some day , and the workers return to their work , I hope to go on trip to visit Gaza and the sea
Mohammed : 12 years old

I hope the crossings open , the end of siege , live in stability and peace , and I hope this wall fall down
Fatema : 9 years old
I hope to live safely , not lose more houses, play happy and safe as we were
. the wall fall down because we are bored with this life and I hope to see the Egyptian children and play with them, talk to them , we want to go out , have fun, visit Egypt and other countries .
Yassmen : 10 years old
I hope this siege ends , I hope from the people out to help the poor here who are in need
Yahea : 9 years old
I hope to go to Jerusalem, hope we have a big zoo and playground to play in it and go to have fun there.

city with out life

My cousins Abdullah and Adel , who killed by the Israelis who left Gaza !!!!!!! how !!! you don’t know !!! Goodbye Abdullah and Adel , we will miss you but we will stay and be what we have to be ,Palestinians no matter what they do .

Inside the Checkpoint with Egypt

In 2006, the Rafah checkpoint was closed periodically. There was pressure even before the elections, before 2005. [Israel] did not respect the agreement then, either. The checkpoint was open only two or three days a week. Hamas was not the problem then—till June 14 2007, Fatah still controlled this crossing. Since June 2007, it has been closed totally, since Israel has not let the European Union observers come to work. The checkpoint agreement was made with the first Palestinian Authority, not with Abbas and Fatah. Hamas won the PA election [gaining about 75% of the legislative seats]. They took their rights with power [when Fatah refused to yield them]. The internationals left with Abbas. The internationals would be safer now than they were before. There are cameras in the checkpoint to observe everything.

If Palestine opened the border now, would Egypt keep it closed?

Egypt was part of the agreement—it was made with Egypt, the EU, and the Palestinian Authority. The EU does not respect the democratic election that gave the majority in the PA to Hamas. They are punishing not Hamas, but all Palestinians—the sick, students, the poor. It will lead to an explosion in the future. Elections were a democratic choice. Pressure will push Palestinians to become real terrorists—they will have nothing more to lose.

The world is silent. We see just rockets, planes in the sky, no life.

Before June 14, it was unsafe in Gaza. Militias were killing each other. Now it is safer. Alan Johnson was held for a year by Fatah. When Hamas got control, they got him released.

When was the last sick person allowed through the checkpoint?

We tried 20 days ago after the Hajjis left. Egypt refused, under Israeli pressure. Here’s an example of how Egypt yields to Israeli pressure: Egypt asked the Hajjis to sign documents promising to return by the Kerem Shalom checkpoint. Egypt is part of the siege. The Hajjis left by the Rafah checkpoint, so they should be able to return by the Rafah checkpoint.

What do you expect for the future?

If the internationals do not come back, suffering will increase. We hope they will come back.

We people have hearts. Our grandparents are here. We will not leave or sell this land. We will stay even if they kill us. We understand siege. They are trying to force us to leave. If no one can say anything, it will explode in our faces.

The PA does recognize Israel. It has given agreements at Oslo, which promised to produce a Palestinian state by 1996. and now we are in 2007 and we didn’t have any thing the agreements with the Israelis took about , In 2007, things are more complex. We are waiting for people to give us our rights. Israel has to follow the agreements. It feels strange as Muslims and Arabs to see how Israel controls the media. They adopt the Israeli point of view—one-sided, one-eyed.

What about Qassam rockets?

They have killed one Israeli in the past two months. The world makes propaganda. They don’t see Palestinians killed every day. Hamas has a bad image. We are not like the Taliban. We are not extreme Islam. We don’t even carry guns.

you have questions in mind ???

(what Fida think )

· The Israelis give us a choice, “Would you like black, or black? Will you accept, or will you accept?”

· I was surprised, when I spoke in America, by how little Americans knew about Palestine.

· (In reference to the demand that Hamas recognize Israel as a Jewish state) How can you recognize people who don’t recognize you?

· Politicians try to keep people busy so that they won’t think about anything else.

· I have thought about starting some projects, but the Is might shoot rockets at a building and say they are targeting the resistance.

who would listen to me if I say "no, this is my project"!!!!!!

when I returned to Gaza in 2006, the electricity was out six hours a day. water was on two days, off two days.Now with Hamas in power, its safer in the streets instead of seeing Palestinians killing each other . before, we were scared to go out and to go to Gaza City. Fatah blamed problems on Hamas, Hamas on Fatah. we didn't know who was responsible. Now there is just one head of government, Hamas. we have a saying in Arabic: a boat with two leaders will get lost and sink. Now in Gaza strip there is one leader .

At Annapolis there was much talk of money, seven billion for the Palestinians authority. but they didn't talk about the people. we need to have a window to the world, to go out. we are in a box, and it is closed. We don't see anything. children say the most important thing for them is to see the outside world – not just on tv, but I want to touch and feel things, at least Egypt. we live but we are not really alive. You can see me talking to you, but inside I'm a dead body. I'm not the fida everyone knows. at Annapolis the Israelis as always said we will do this or that, but we don't know when they will do this or that. they say tomorrow, and tomorrow they say tomorrow, and you will never catch their tomorrow. There is no agreement about the return of the refugees, or Palestinians access to Jerusalem, to the world , People would like to pray there. You like your church, we like our mosques. why don't they allow people to go there?

We are peace-loving, yes, but we don't want it this way – pushing the Palestinians to do things they want not as the Palestinians want . what's happening in this world !!!

we can break the cycle of violence by respecting each other. If they respect us as human beings who want to have a good life, we will respect them.

At alnajar hospital

1-What about electricity?

We have a generator. But there is a gap in time between the time the electricity cuts off and the generator gets started. (For the operating rooms, they showed us battery backups designed to cover this gap.) We have a new x-ray section, but it is not ready. We need more machines.

2-Do you have enough diesel fuel for the generators?

We need 19,000 liters but have only 1,500. We lost a lot of diesel fuel in a storm that collapsed one of our tanks.

The hospital director, Dr. Ahmed Abu-Nekira, arrived and continued the interview.

I have five sons and two daughters. I was in a clinic before the hospital. The hospital has 40 beds. It hopes to have 60 when the expansion is completed.

I studied in Israel, at Beer Sheba University—anesthesiology and intensive care. I worked for ten years at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. I came here to Gaza during the second intifada. I am the director, but I do not identify either with Fatah or with Hamas. About 70 doctors work in the hospital, especially in surgery and anesthesia. About 40 of those 70 are without salary. Six months ago, Ramallah asked me as director to take a salary but not work. [Fatah is trying to pressure Hamas with this work boycott.] Because I insisted on working, they won’t pay my salary. I keep working because I love work and Palestine. The salaries of five managers here also stopped six months ago. There used to be 190 people working in the hospital and getting salaries from Ramallah, but now they stay at home, don’t work, and still get their salaries. Ninety people actually work at the hospital, but as volunteers without salaries. As manager, I used to receive 5,000 shekels a month [about $1,250.00.] Even that was not enough. Now that I do not receive that salary, I depend on my second job, at a private hospital, as an anesthetist. I earn 50 shekels per patient..There have been a lot of injuries from the intifada. The closure has also affected the hospital a lot. There are many medications we don’t have; also machines. We have one intensive care unit and an emergency room, but no monitors and no ventilators. Patients die because they can’t exit to Israel. Rafah lost ten this year; Gaza strip lost 55. Ninety percent need a kidney flush. Most used to go to Egypt. This summer we have a project to create a kidney section, especially since patients can no longer leave Gaza for dialysis. We have six machines here for dialysis, all in a 5 by 4 meter room (12 by 15 feet). We have two more machines, but no place to put them. We hope to have place for them in two weeks—we are trying to move dialysis to another section. We have 50 dialysis patients, ten with positive virus. They had to go to Nasser Hospital (in Khan Younis), which is expensive.We are not asking for money; we are asking for machines. They can’t get in now. We have one CBC machine. Last night I was told that it didn’t give the white blood count. We had to stop building a wall for lack of building materials. Working here is like breaking rocks in a prison. We are looking for help just to survive, not yet to get what we really need. We suffer especially from lack of gasoline and food—especially vegetables and fruits for patients .I was the first to try to help Rachel Corrie when she was run over by the bulldozer. I also was the first for Tom Hurndall. We help everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are from.

Are you seeing malnutrition?

Yes. Especially in children. No work, no salary.

How do people survive without a salary?

UNRWA gives food. Many people eat meat only twice a year—on Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha. Most donations are to a limited number of people. They don’t share. 90% of people are without jobs.

How long can it go on?

It started in 2005 with the elections. It got worse in 2006 when Fatah was driven out. Ask the American people—not the government. They encourage democracy, then they don’t accept the results. It’s bad for U.S. history.

My son wanted to buy shoes for the winter. He couldn’t find any. He is still wearing his summer shoes.

We are hoping to find a U.S. sister hospital.

Interview with five high school students aged 15 years old at life makers center in Rafah –Gaza strip .52 people have died in this siege in 2007.These people were trying to get out of Gaza Strip to get medical treatment, but the Israeli army did not let them. They died in Gaza Strip this year.If this situation remains like this with the closing of the border, it will be catastrophic. Children will die, and they will not live their childhood. We don't know why the Israeli army kills the children.After Hamas won the elections, the salaries were stopped. Medicines are becoming scarcer at the hospitals. There is a shortage of medical equipment also.We ask the people of the world to let us feel safe. We need to live our childhood.Sometimes food is allowed to be brought in, but it is very expensive. Since last year the prices have risen 200 to 300 percent. With growing unemployment, people cannot afford to buy the food they need. Most of the time people just eat beans.We are seeing a growing crime rate because of this situation.There are frequent cutoffs of electricity, which can ruin many machines and also makes it impossible for us to study at night.This could also result in the death of a patient on the operating table.The children especially live in fear under this situation. They are always scared.The power outages can last for 6 hours a day, every day.Transportation has gotten very expensive. For some bus rides within the neighborhood, the fare has increased from one shekel to two or two fifty, which we can't afford. Now that we have told you all this, what are you going to do for us?

We want to live in peace like all the other Arab countries and all the peoples of the world. Do you feel a certain sense of accomplishment and pride now that the Israelis have left and Palestinians themselves are running Gaza, in spite of all the difficulties?
After the Israelis left, there are no more checkpoints, so we are not suffering like before, especially between Gaza and other cities. It used to take several hours to get from Rafah to Gaza. The students really suffered having to go to Gaza City for studies .But even now the Israelis, especially their air force, have not left us. The army makes incursions from time to time to arrest people and kill those they want to kill, especially from the air. When they were still here in Gaza Strip, they lost many soldiers, so now it is safer for them just to enter and kill. The reality for us is the same: they kill and take people prisoner.The Israelis destroyed the settlement houses before they left. The Israeli government had said that they could leave the houses for the Palestinians, but Palestinian families are much larger than the Israeli families so they did not want to take these houses because they were too small. So the Israeli army destroyed all the houses before they left Gaza Strip, explaining that they did not want to leave the settlers the hope of going back some time to Gaza. We are glad that the Israeli army did this; at least we can say that the settlers will not come back. Is it nice to be able to go to the beach (Mediterranean)? Since they closed access to the sea, we did not go there. Some people are really scared to go to the sea because of what happened to the family of Hoda Gally . they were on the beach, and the Israelis fired at them from the sea, killing her family. All the people saw this. She was screaming and saying very sad things like "Mom and Dad, why have you left me?" People were really sad to see this, so most are scared to go to the beach. I would really like to know why the Israelis are putting us under all of this: the siege, closing the crossing. What is the reason that they don't let us live and have a good life and peace? Why do you think the Israelis pulled out, forcing the settlers to leave and withdrawing the army?

Because of our strong resistance. And this is not their land to stay in. they might come back, since the wall is still here; that has not changed. They are killing the leaders to make it easy for them to return and control it again. They are entering Gaza now dressed in Palestinian outfits, go to the houses of the people they want and take them, and return to Israel.We Palestinians are not bad people. We have shalit as a prisoner, but we do not treat our prisoners as Israelis treat our people in their jails. When an Israeli is killed by the Palestinians, they make it really big news; but when a Palestinian is killed, an old man or a woman or child, he is nothing and they don't talk about it. How many Palestinians have been killed this year by the Israeli military? Perhaps 340. Others have been killed by the cutoff of medicines and food. If the situation remains like this, malnutrition could become a serious problem.We want all the prisoners to come back to their families. Tell the people in the U.S. to stand by us, and tell them what is really happening. write about the children, comparing life for children here and in Israel.we just need peace and safety and that the Israelis leave and let us live our lives. We want the refugees to come back to Palestine again, and we want the Israelis to open the crossing to let the sick people go to receive treatment.. We have never seen the West Bank or Jerusalem. We are in Palestine, and the West Bank is Palestine, but we have never seen it. We want to see Jerusalem. The Israelis control everything, even people going to the Mosque.

interview with a driver

before the closure, we were receiving 100,000 liters of gasoline a day from the Israelis; but now, about 40,000 liters of gasoline. this makes it hard for people to move around. we just have food for one day at a time.two days ago I had an emergency: my daughter got seriously sick and I didn't have gasoline to take her to the doctor.the price of gasoline has risen now to five shekels per liter.People now are walking rather than driving. and if I want to go to Gaza City, I will not take my car or a private cab. I will share a large cab for seven people. There is also a problem with car parts. Many cannot be found in Gaza Strip now. Or a part that cost 100 shekels before the border closure now costs 200. cigarettes used to cost 8 shekels but now cost 18 per pack, and this is for poor quality cigarettes.when Israelis speak about us, they say we are all bad. But when Pals talk about them, we distinguish among Israelis, Jews, and army. Jews are different from army, and Pals live in Israel too. If someone comes to your house and says I am going to kill you, what would you think, what would you do? You would defend yourself.On our recent Muslim holy day, we wanted to follow our religious custom of sacrificing a cow or a goat. But this year bec the Is did not allow cows or goats to be brought into G st, the people could not sacrifice an animal. Years ago we paid 1200 sh for an animal, but now the price was 1800 which was out of reach for many people. some people sacrificed an animal which was only one year old instead of the two years required by religious custom; the imams allowed this.this kind of life makes you die. Many young people of 18 or 20 years of age want to leave bec of the situation. I challenge you to find any kind of building materials in the shops. the Is don't allow them into g st. this means that no more houses are being built. I wanted to build a new room but could not do it. Many people want to improve their home but can't. room but could not do it. Many people want to improve their home but can't. a friend of mine decided to paint his car. He sanded off the first coat of paint but then couldn't find any paint to finish the job.No building materials at all are coming in. You can't fix anything in your house. they let some items in, for ex, flour, but the price has increased from 100 sh to 160. some fruit is allowed in, but the higher quality fruit is exported to other countries. sometimes sugar and cooking oil are allowed in, but not always. apples used to cost 3 or 4 sh but now cost 8 per kilo, and now they are not always in the market.I have a good life. at least I can buy what my children need. we are surviving.
who sets the prices, the businesspeople acc to the law of supply and demand?
driver – let me explain. the materials we need are brought to the checkpoint by Is trucks, but they have to wait there up to 3 days or more, and the Pals have to pay for this delay. the truckers charge more for their cargo when they load it onto the Pal trucks.Let me tell you about a building project for Pal whose homes were demolished by the Israelis. People were expecting to move into their homes in august, but they are still waiting for the work to be finished since no building materials are allowed in. some families are living in one room while they wait. If Israel allowed us to have trade and travel with Egypt, that would be good. but we can't. why not? If this closure continues, it will take ten hours by donkey to get to Gaza city, whereas by car it takes one hour. this is really disgusting.

my cover

My cover goodbye , i wil miss you .
2 weeks a go I uncovered my face. For six years, I had been wearing the niqab, the Muslim veil that hides your face, leaving just the eyes exposed. I live in Rafah city in the Gaza Strip.

When I went to the shop with my sister, the same grocery shop we go to every day after work, the assistant asked my sister, is this another sister? Where is Fida? Is she OK?
My sister said, pointing at me, Yes, she is okay and, actually, she is here. The assistant didn't believe it. Not till I spoke to him and even then he couldn't believe I had taken off the niqab.
I teach at a children's centre. My students were staring at my face in disbelief, but all of them said, It is better, teacher. And I feel better too; at least the people know to whom they talking and they can see who is talking to them. I didn't always have this kind of confidence. It was in 2001 that I started covering my face, my first year in University. I started to wear the niqab because I was really timid with strangers and I got nervous when I spoke to men. Women here are supposed to be modest when they speak to men because we have a different style of life here, but I was very shy. At college, I found myself in a mixed male/female department. It was a first for me as Id been in an all girls primary school. Some of my male classmates started to call me tomato because my face would get red when I answered questions. I don't know why! Maybe a doctor can explain why some people blush and get confused and bashful.At first, my family wouldn't accept that I was wearing a niqab. Especially my dad. He told me Id never get a good job with a veil over my face, that I wouldn't be accepted in society. My mum and sisters who don't wear the niqab said its your decision. For those who don't know what is the difference between the scarf (Hijab) and face cover (Niqab)
Hijab means a scarf to cover the hair so people can see the face of the woman they are talking to. Niqab means scarf to cover the hair plus the face so people just can see the eyes. Some women even cover their eyes with a sheer piece of cloth but they can see through. As a joke, some people here call women with niqabs ninjas. Its a term I used to laughingly apply to myself!
Once when I was working with a group of Americans, interpreting. One of them saw a group of women who covered their eyes as well as their faces and said Fida! You will not go as far as them one day? Will you?
Many people here in Palestine and abroad asked me to take off the niqab because they liked me better without it. I remember one American friend, I interpreted for him and his group when they came to Gaza . He never saw my face. He said, I work with Fida-the two-eyes. To this day, it makes me laugh.
Life in the Gaza Strip differs from city to city, even if the differences are small. For example, where I live in Rafah city, I guarantee to you that you will not see a single woman walking in the street with out a scarf covering her hair.
But in Gaza city you can see a lot of women without the scarf, the hair cover – that's because its different there, its like the country capital, you find all types in it with cover, hijab or niqab, or without. But here in Rafah , no way. All women at least cover their hair. There have been reports that since Hamas came to power more women have been forced to cover up. I haven't seen that happen.
The good thing about the niqab is it really gives the woman confidence in her contact with other people. You can talk easily to anyone. I speak from my six years of experience. The cover was good for me – it gave me a real self-assurance. I don't know how to explain it, but I felt strong and secure. With the veil I have studied , become a teacher , a reporter, a camera woman, and interpreter .
I remember a woman from Poland who visited our neighbour. I was asked in to translate. As soon she saw me, this Polish woman ran to her husband. I could tell how much she was scared. Of me. I cant tell you how bad I felt. When she heard me speaking English and realized how much I respected her, we became friends. She was in Gaza for nine months and we often had a good time together. But from that time, I realized how many people were scared of me.
Why did I stop covering my face now, not before?
Say I had gone on TV wearing my niqab, I imagine millions of people would immediately assume she must be from Hamas. They wouldn't stop to separate Fida from what she is wearing. And I fear I would not be respected“ people will believe Im a member of Hamas. And I am not. I am a Palestinian woman, and I want to tell you, face to face, I am a human being who laughs and cries.
Our people made the decision to elect Hamas to government. The world didnt accept even though they sent observers who said the elections were free and fair.
Now we are called terrorists. Its unjust .

I was scared to write this piece because I know that a lot of sick people who hate Muslims will try to use it against Islam. They will say, oh, the women are not free and they are pushed to cover their faces. But let me tell you, we do what we want and we are are more free than they think. Me, I am free, and I reckon I have a lot more respect for people than someone like Mr George Bush. Let me explain one thing I am just like you. In your culture, you accept nuns and what's the difference between Muslim women covering up and nuns veils? One hundred per cent nothing. You know why? Because you have your religions and we have our religion and if you want to talk about terrorism, as you call it, I will tell you that you created the terrorism, not the Muslims. Its the actions of the west. Come here, come and see what's happening. Unless you know what its like in Palestine , its unfair to keep calling us terrorists.
I want to be a messenger for the Palstinians if my face is covered, it might scare you off. Or you might turn the page and the only thing you will think is, She is some Hamas mouthpiece, not She is a Palestinian who is suffering. And I need you to know that. In Palestine , we are suffering. It might sound boring because we say it so often but only because it is the truth.
This is my third day with out the cover. The first day I uncovered my face, my mum said, Fida, the niqab was better for you. My sisters didn't say anything. Things seem different. I don't know why, but I feel better . I think people need to know who's they talking to. Its not easy to wear the veil and then take it off as soon as you want, no; the society will not accept it easily. But for me the most important is me, to accept myself and what I'm doing. And others are now happy to see my face.

from my notebook part4(life- or death ) what do you think?
While the world focuses on Lebanon, daily tragedies continue in Palestine. I want to tell you some stories the people of Rafah shared with me. A young man asked me to teach him to use a video camera. In our culture it's not easy for men to ask women for help because they think that women are not strong. We began on August 3rd. Mohammed and I hadn't heard the news, because the electricity was cut off for two days after the Israeli army destroyed Rafah's electricity lines. So we were shocked to find a funeral just nearby. A neighbor and his two sons were killed in an Israeli air strike (?).

Mohammed said, we can start videoing here. I found myself saying no. We can start with life. Then I thought to go to the sea, just to see something different, not this sadness.When we got there, it felt like another place. We saw kids swimming and splashing in the water. Nine martyrs in the city and they were trying to have fun.A little girl told us, we came here to be safe and our parents accept that. I'm eight years old. I'm living my childhood even though the tanks and the F16s try to kill it. I was shocked by her answer. I remembered when I was eight. Her experience is not close to my childhood, though we grew up in the same neighborhood. A teacher there told us that after Israel's disengagement from Gaza we felt good for a while, but now it's really hard to take children outdoors. I work with kids also. If we take them outdoors, where can they go? There are no parks or fun places for kids in Gaza. When I saw kids in other countries, I was sad for our children. Why can't they live like children their age? Life under occupation is very different from living in a free country.

Three days later our neighbor told me that the Israeli army left Jorge street. Even though, this street was really far from the border, the Israeli army killed 11 Palestinians there and demolished 54 homes (?). I prepared my cameras and my tape recorder to visit there. I stopped a taxi and found a woman and her kids going there too. The children asked, mum is our house standing? I heard it was damaged? Will we live there again? Mum, Ahmed our neighbor died? He is young!The mother said we are going to see. She asked me if I would write a story, and if really some people in the West take time to read about our situation? I said I write and hope that some people read. We arrived there. The kids ran to see their home. They didn't stop even when their mother asked them to stay away, to be safe

I was really happy when the family found their house undamaged. I remembered my family's house, bulldozed by the Israeli army. Life is hard without a home. The woman said simply, thank God.It's not easy to see people's hearts broken, over a son, a mother, a father, or a home. This time I saw a heart broken over thousands of uprooted trees. Abu Husny lives nearby. He is 80 years old. Looking into his face, I saw his life had been hard. He asked me, do you see what the Israeli army did? They killed me three times, when I left my first house in Bir Shafahin in 1967, when they destroyed my house in 2004, and now by destroying my farm. They erased 26 years of my life, 26 years of work to grow these trees. God helps and will never leave us.People here asked me if you who are reading this can imagine how it would feel without electricity, no food for a day or a week, or water even animals shouldn't consume because it's unhealthy? Can you enjoy life if you don't have a park or a salary? What if your neighbors were killed, and your home or farm bulldozed? Sometimes it's hard to acknowledge what we see. If it exceeds our capacity as humans, we close our eyes, even if we know it's the truth. Please don't close your eyes to Palestine.

'We suffer together, we leave together'
Sunday July 30, 2006

July 13

After two weeks of waiting with my parents and brother at the Egyptian border crossing, I returned home to Rafah, Gaza from a trip. We waited because the Israelis didn't allow us to cross the border. We spent two days outside the border terminal in Egypt and 12 days inside the border terminal. 4,000 Palestinians waited like this, some for three weeks

Sometimes we got food and water, sometimes not. I don't remember if I really slept or not during twelve days inside the terminal. I didn't eat a lot because really I didn't want to go to the bathroom. It wasn't a bathroom actually - four walls and a piece of plastic for the door. Nine Palestinians died there. I could have been one of them. I was more scared for my dad and mum because even young people died. From the border, we could see the Israeli helicopters shooting rockets into Rafah in Gaza, and destroying the nearby Palestinian airport. We heard that the crossing would open, but the Israelis didn't agree.

We ended up stuck in the arrival hall instead. The Israelis said just 250 people could cross, though 570 people were stuck in the hall. Then we became 800 people, with thousands waiting outside. The people said, we suffer together, we leave together. Sometimes we slept without dinner and without blankets and woke up without breakfast, until the last five days when the Red Cross came. One mother learned that her son was killed by the Israeli army. She couldn't get home for the funeral, though we were a kilometer from Gaza. A mother is a mother according to all laws. I watched when another mother got the news that her three sons were arrested by Israeli solders. She passed out for five minutes. I thought she had died. Sick people were stuck there and not allowed to go back to the hospitals. They said, "We don't want food or blankets. We need to go home."

Nobody helped, until some people called the Palestinian armed resistance. The resistance called the Egyptians and gave them three days to open the crossing. The Egyptians said the Israelis threatened that if Palestinians were allowed to cross the border, they would shoot and kill them. Finally, men from the Palestinian resistance broke the Israeli-built separation wall. They entered the Egyptian side and helped the people to get out. We got home through the hole they opened. Thank God I'm finally home. I feel my body is broken. No shower for two weeks, can you imagine? But let me share with you how life is at home. The people in Gaza live in a big prison, for 1.4 million people, the biggest prison in the world.

After I got home, I took a shower. But before I did, my sister told me we don't have too much water, because the Israeli army destroyed the water and electricity lines. We have water once for two hours every four days, and electricity six hours a day. This is how the people live these days: no water, no food and no money from salaries. We always say when somebody visits us, go home and tell your people about life here. Now people need to be educated about Lebanon too. It's awful to think about what's going on there. Sometimes I close my eyes and say war, it's just a dream, a nightmare. Why is this war happening? The Hizbollah militia arrested two Israelis solders. They tried to help us, as Palestinians.

At that time, in the Gaza Strip, in two weeks, the Israeli army killed 94 people. The war in Lebanon is not a war to defend Israeli rights. It's a war to create a second Palestine by displacing more people, and creating more suffering. Everybody hopes to have a good life and future. We love our kids, mothers, and fathers. We love our families like you, and we feel sad when somebody is killed. We are humans, of flesh and blood. Think of that for a minute please. Hearts can tell what information is accurate and guide people to the truth. Truth can tell us how to reach justice and peace.

from my notebook part3( we suffer together we leave together)

July 23rd

I finished my work and went home at 11:30 pm. There were many people in the street. This is how the people spend their time at night in Rafah because its really too hot to be in their homes. On another part of our street was our neighbour's wedding. The people there stayed really late. I got home and tried to have fun with my sisters and brother. We watched a TV program. I could hear the Israeli helicopters and planes. I knew in my heart something going to happen, but I didn't know what! Suddenly we heard the loud sound of a bomb

Everybody ran to see what had happened. It's not possible to stop yourself when people are in need of you. My mum cried and asked my brother to stop and to get home after we heard people shouting, especially kids. I recognized their voices. Everybody was running. We opened the door to allow people to enter our house in order to be safe. My mum asked our neighbour who was sitting on his balcony, where was this bombing? It was very close and we really felt as if the house would collapse. He said it was the house of Sami our other neighbour. An Israeli F16 fighter plane bombed it.

Some people were injured who were walking in the street. Soon we heard that a child was injured too. I couldn't walk. The bombing was really close to us, just 30 or 40 meters away. The bricks and stones flew everywhere. That's how people got injured. I imagined myself walking, or the taxi just ten minutes late, because I always cross that same street when I get home. I could have been one of them. I was most scared for the kids and their families who left the wedding and ran everywhere.

The sounds of the scared children made me cry. I wanted to help, but I couldn't (TM). I went to the hospital and found that everybody was alright. Now, last night on our street the Israelis called and warned three families to leave their houses, saying they would bomb them. The Israelis did the same in other camps in Rafah, warning a total of ten families. The next day I felt I needed to do something different. I called my friend and asked her to meet at a restaurant because I will be busy next week at work. It was the first day I planned to rest. I took a taxi and went to the nearby city of Khan Yunis. In the taxi there was a big discussion about the war in Lebanon, what's going on in the Gaza Strip now, and why all of this happened. I always appreciate what old people say. An old man said to the driver, my son, what's happening in Lebanon is the same as Gaza.

And the Israelis who kill here kill there. They tell the other people that they are defending themselves. Son this trouble can be ended by negotiation, not war. War for two Israeli soldiers? He said, son, I left my house when I was ten years old. I remember everything that happened. My father said we will return soon after a few days, but we are not back still, 50 years later. And now I see myself in Lebanon, among these thousands who leave. They don't even look back because they don't want to see the sad image of a friend killed or a house destroyed. I found myself asking the old man, do you think we will live like this for long?

He responded, I think people here, in Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur, Vietnam and other poor countries will have a good life, if the world sees the true picture of what is happening here, and if we work good to educate the other countries in the world. That made me feel a little bit better because part of my work is to educate people. The next day as always we were watching TV to follow the news from Lebanon. In the middle of that, I was shocked that they start to talk about Gaza, the northern Gaza Strip. Nothing was happening there, but suddenly the Israeli army entered the north of Gaza.

They killed 19 people, and injured many. I tried to make myself feel better by visiting friends I met when I was stuck for two weeks at the border crossing between Gazaand Egypt trying to return home. It was hard to visit them before because the Israeli army invaded El Maghazi where these friends live. The Israeli army killed 18 and injured more than 40. When I got out of Rafah in the taxi we heard the news that the Israelis invaded Rafah, and they were in the Elshoka area. One person was injured. My mum looked at me, and I said we will not go back. We will see if my friends are doing well and will leave in 10 minutes. We get home after an hour, but in Rafah the Israeli attack had a high cost. Many families moved to schools to be safe, and that made me feel badly.

The Israeli army demolished my family's home in 2004. That's my family's story again with a new family. It's the same city, the same people, and the passage of time has not made a difference, even in 2006. We were there three years ago. And they were there an hour ago. It's the same story, the same. In Rafah, we have water once for two hours every four days, and electricity now twelve hours a day. This is how people live these days: no water, no food and no money from salaries. Everybody hopes to have a good life and future. We love our kids, mothers, and fathers. We love our families like you, and we feel sad when somebody is killed. We are humans, of flesh and blood. Think of that for a minute please. Never rely just on information from the stronger side. Hearts can tell what information is accurate and guide people to the truth. Truth can tell us how to reach justice and peace.

from my notebook part 1

Iam currently on my first visit to the United States. I find most Americans don't know much about the lives of Palestinians like me.
My family and I live in Rafah. On January 21, 2004, our neighbor, Abu Jamil, woke us at 2:00 AM. He asked for help because the Israeli military came to bulldoze his home. My mother and I helped his family to empty their house. By 6:00 AM it was demolished.
I took a shower and studied for an exam. I made tea for everyone. I thought they wouldn't destroy more houses, but soon my grandmother, my aunt, my uncles and cousins appeared, because their homes had just been demolished. We all sat in one room. I thought we were safe although I heard bulldozers outside, but soon our neighbor warned us that they had started destroying our home. Everyone left the house. I helped my grandmother because she has trouble walking. My mother passed out and couldn't get up, but I dragged her to a safer place.
Then I realized I forgot my bag with all my important papers. I returned home to get it, and just as I left, the house's last concrete blocks fell right behind me. That day Israeli bulldozers destroyed 50 homes in our neighborhood.

Since then, we have moved seven times. I have two brothers, four sisters and my parents. It's hard because we are never in our own home.
Since 1967 Israel has demolished 12,000 Palestinian homes. During this uprising, Israel has demolished 2000 homes in Rafah, mostly near the border with Egypt, and 3,000 houses in the Gaza Strip. In Rafah 3,000 people remain homeless.
The Israelis say they destroyed homes in Rafah because they hid tunnels for smuggling weapons. Do 2000 houses in Rafah hide tunnels? Israel's real reason for flattening entire neighborhoods was to build a wall, twice as high as the Berlin Wall, on the border between Egypt and Palestine.

I once asked a man who lived in an isolated home far from the border why they demolished his house? He said that the bulldozer driver told him, "To make you suffer."
After my home was demolished, I was inspired by the example of the American activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah, and my friends and I decided to organize to help families near the border. But I wanted to do more. I started working with children, and succeeded by opening Life Makers, a children's educational center. We started with 40 children and now we have 300.

Most Americans think we are free after Israel's disengagement from Gaza. But since then more than 50 Gazans have been killed by Israeli missiles. The Israelis left Gaza's land, but they still occupy the air. Gaza is like a prison, with only one exit, to Egypt.

I think if ordinary people here knew what was happening to ordinary people in Palestine, they would be more compassionate. We need food, water and homes. We need work and access to the world. We need justice. When Palestinians have justice there will be peace.

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