only now access to internet, checking the news. by now, eight people have been murdered in the past few days in gaza and over 50 injured, with some of the injured having limbs blown or cut or ripped off or maimed in other ways that will mean years, if not a lifetime of pain and suffering. we will not know all their names, nor how they are, what they need.
we know only the names of the martyrs:
Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqq (13)
Mohammed Ussama Hassan Harara (16)
Ahmed Mustafa Khaled Harara (17)
Ahmed Kamel Al- Dirdissawi (18)
Matar ‘Emad ‘Abdul Rahman Abu al-‘Ata (19)
Mohammed Fu’ad ‘Obaid (22)
Mohammed Sa’id Shkoukani (18)
Muhammad Zeyad Abdullah Quno (20)
selfishly and to my shame, i am grateful that i’ve never been to gaza, and that i don’t know any of the severely injured or the martyred.
i don’t have words. anne’s in gaza now. she found some. here’s her post.
As soon as I heard about the attack I rushed to Shifa hospital and I found a place which looked like I imagine a war hospital. The injured were keep coming in, some of them in very bad conditions, with their faces covered with blood, some were having spams as they were going to die the next minute. Blood was also on the floor. People were screaming, some of them crying. Screaming to let the stretcher pass, screaming to be able to enter to the emergency room to see their loved ones. Hamas police had to push people back so that the ambulance could access easily the gates. They were also cars coming too with injured as ambulances could not cope with the numbers. I was shocked at the number of children. I also saw some women and old men. Local photographers were keeping me informed on the new attacks. The number of Palestinian killed was also not clear- they talked about 2 or 3 or 4. It was also difficult to have information about what happened, details emerged later. It was also difficult to take pictures with the number of people surrounding the injured. there were a lot of pushing, and as a woman I need to be very careful about physical contacts.
With another photographer, we went at the back of Shifa to take pictures of the martyrs, it was difficult as they were many people inside. Somebody asked us to leave and come back the following morning.
More news about attacks and also rockets being fired from Gza into Israel were coming.
After almost 4 hours at the hospital I decided to go home and worked on the pictures. I could barely stand anymore.
For sure it was going to be a long night. My phone was bringing non-stop with new alert messages about the attacks and the rockets, Tweeter also- always a great source of information- was providing immediate coverage. I could hear the F16, or the drones hovering over her heads. At one stage I decided just to stop reading, and to turn off my phone. I knew the following day would be tough and that I would need to be fit and strong. I actually slept well because of the exhaustion.
In the morning I anxiously opened my phone, fearing the news of more martyrs and attacks. The messages kept pouring in about more bombings in different locations: rafah, beit layahia, beit hanoun. I prepared myself for a long day and headed to shifa hospital to the morgue. Many people were there,both inside and outside the morgue. I spotted Daoud, a Palestinian photographer that I saw last night and asked him if I could enter to take pictures as I did not want to offend the families. The photographer came with me. He actually helped me during the whole day, showing me where to go, and providing me some kind of brotherly protection that I truly appreciated, and made all the difference in the world.
The bodies were still in the ‘fridge boxes’. A man who looked like he was in charge opened the boxe sonly for a few minutes. One of the martyr had a sheet on his face. When lifted I understood why, his face was riddled with schrnapel. His eyes were still wide open.
One of the young Palestinian was crying. His pain seemed so deep that I could barely contain my tears. For me seing the pain of the families is tougher than to see the bodies, the living will have to live with this pain, this loss of their loved ones and they would never be the same. Their joy will never be complete, something will always be missing. I felt the tears coming in my throat but I did not let them stop me from doing what I felt I had to do. The story of these martyrs and suffering has to be told again and again until somebody listens. These deaths are not just death, there are premeditated crimes.
Another martyr is being shown. One of his relative is just standing in front and with the whole tenderness in the world, touched his face. I went out to gasp some air. A Palestinian was carried out of the morgue, he fainted.
Then they prepared the bodies, took them out and wrapped them with the flags of their party or group. The Palestinians were all around the bodies, all wanted to say a final goodbye, many taking pictures with their mobiles. Finally the bodies were taken out accompagnying by the screams and chants in their honour. I found myself, still following my protective Palestinian photographer, at the back of the truck carrying one of the martyrs. We crossed Gaza city towards the east al-Shoja’iya neighborhood. We were probably more than 30 at the back of the truck. The shebabs sang for their martyrs all the way.
When we arrived close to the home of one of the martyrs, Ahmed al Derdsawi. Daoud and I jumped out of the truck still driving and we ran to take photos of the procession. Palestinians, as the tradition is, would carry the martyr until his home so that the women would say a final goodbye, then to the mosque and finally to the cemetery where he would be simply and quicly burried. The Palestinians were running very fast carrying the body, the chants were accompanied by many shootings carried out by a few armed fighters present. On the balcony of the home of the martyr, many women were waiting to see him, crying and shouting. The body entered only for a few minutes, and then was being taken way forever.
The intensity of it all was just too strong to take. I felt that this was my camera that I followed and dragged me around, and not the other way around,. I ran again, following the running shebabs. How could they keep the pace? I felt I could not breathe. Then we encountered another group of shebabs carrying another body, Matar Abu Al-Atta, 19 year old. He looked so young still. He was really beautiul also. I followed them to the house. My guardian angel photographer actually put me in a car and asked them to carry until the house. I guess I began to look like I would have an heart attack. In the home, this was the same chorus of shoutings and crying. The mother of |Matar was just sitting motionless, her eyes closed, as she did not want to face a reality which did not include her loved son anymore. An old woman was crying like a child, surely she thought that she was the one that was supposed to go, not the young ones. A woman shouted at me showing me a baby but I could not understand. Maybe in two little rooms you had 30 women crying and shouting their pain. After a while, one man asked the journalists and photographers to go. He had to actually shout as some photographers arrived late and did not have their pictures. I left, my legs shaking, my heart squeezed.
I am thinking of all this propaganda about how ‘Palestinians loved to send their sons to die’. Well in just 24 hours I think I heard more crying and screamings that in my whole life. Palestinians do love life. They do not enjoy to be murdered while sitting in front of their homes, playing football or walking outside.
My day was not over. I went back to the hospital still struggling with the number of injuries. Then I went to the actual location of the attack, just locatednear a cemetery where one martyr was actually being buried. People showed us the location, We are on a small hill overlooking Gaza city and the border is maybe at around 1.5 kilometer, I expected it to be much closer. The scene was grim. a building was partially demolished. There were still stains of blood on the floor and even pieces of flesh on trees. To add to the desolation, the rain took us by surprise and we wan for cover. A strong sound then shaked us and some people starting to run. I had no idea what was happening, so I ran too. Somebody told me that this is the sound of a Grade Palestinian rockets fired from nearby. We left.
I came back totally crushed and exhausted and I tried to work on my pictures and sending them despite the electricity cuts. I managed somehow to work more, My pictures being sent after 4 hours of editing -work and captionning I felt that I could finally relax but I just could not. News kept coming about other attacks. I know I needed to disconnect, and watched half of a comedy movie which helped me to sleep.
Today I found out more details about what happened. The first strike hit a group of youth gathering and playing football. 2 Children were instantly killed. then people rushed to help them, one of them, an old man, carried a white kaffieh as a white flag. Then the second strike came, and a third one and a fourth. These are civilians, far from the border. The Israeli army with all its high technology could not ignore that they were there, and that they were civilians. Targetting civilians is stricly prohibited under international law, but again Israel did show that they did not give a dam about international law. And they are right: until now there has been absolutely zero accountability for the countless crimes they committed so why would they care?
I also learned that the baby I was shown is the little brother of Mattar who was born the same day Mattar was killed. the new born was named after his big brother who he would never meet.
I think this is a good metaphor about life and death here and a miraculous message about resilience: no matter how many Palestinians are killed, the Palestinians do not actually disappear. They are here and here to stay.
Now the situation is still very unstable. Life goes on as usual. When I asked a Palestinian today who lives close to the border if he could sleep last night despite the sounds of the shellings and the planes, he answered to me with a big smile: “yes. this is normal for us, these are more like a background music”. As I wrote this post, I coukd hear some music for weddings. This is Gaza.
Some people say that with the Israeli elections coming, the Israeli politicians need a new “war”, or rather a massacre that will be presented as a war. Others say that if there was not many bombings today, it is just because we have so many clouds.
And so for the first time, I am wishing for the bad weather to continue.
Just want to finish by saying that this is not usual for me to describe my feelings or how I work. My aim is not to appear as somebody brave or to compare in any way my anger and pain with the ones of the real victims- the Palestinians. I just felt for once the need to write more a personal account and to provide more details about what I saw. I can leave at any time, contrary to people in Gaza who have nowhere to escape.