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As we sat down to break the fast, everything in the house started smashing and flying

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Walaa

Walaa Ghussein

Last Tuesday night July 8th at 8:15 PM, my family and I: my mother, father, four sisters and the youngest brother, all were gathering in the dining room, preparing to break fasting. We circled a round table, full of various delicious kinds of food, chatting about a possible Israeli attack in the area and if we should leave the house or stay. All of a sudden hell broke out: massive explosion put an end to the conversation carried out by an F16 warplane less than 10 meters away from us, everything in the house was smashing and flying over our heads the windows, the dust, and the shrapnel. We couldn’t find a safe spot in the house to protect us but a small bathroom, where we 8 of us squashed under the merciless attack of the Israelis. The house has suddenly disappeared from the street’s sight; it was covered with smoke and fire. The neighbors were screaming and running to see if we’re still alive – there was no light to see what happened to the house, most people in the world will never understand what is it like to live such a horrific situation. The house and its walls would be your last concern as long as your beloved ones are still alive. We sat there, traumatized, waiting until it was “safe” to leave. We picked whatever stuff we thought we’d need and evacuated the area.

We all see in the media how Israelis run to their well protected shelters when they hear the “sirens”, they panic and hide in a safe place. Palestinians have no shelters and nowhere to go when their houses get bombed and destroyed, mostly upon their heads, by a heavy F16 missile, which leads to tragic massacres. The proportion of wounded, killing and destruction must be considered. Numbers, rising rapidly, every minute, speak for themselves. Israel exterminates whole families, one of the families had only one survivor, a child, whose fate was decided by an Israeli warplane to grow up without a family or a shelter. The entire Gaza Strip is traumatized again. No one can compensate our loss. If we would cry, we would form rivers that start in Gaza and end in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course the world and mainstream media does not call it terrorism.

Is this Israel’s bank of goals? Targeting “only terror”? What about Israel’s war crimes, massacres and their collective punishment of civilians, including women and children? And we have all seen Israelis sitting happily in towns near Gaza’s border watching the ongoing massacres, celebrating them. This is the Israeli way of saying “Hi! We want peace but Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields which is not our problem, so we’ll just have to kill you all.” I know that some Israelis dream of turning Gaza into the biggest parking lot in the world, which is a clear call to genocide, and also a clear statement that no one in Israel wants “peace”, as they claim.

This is not a “war” of two equal powers, nor is it a country-to-country fighting. It is an occupied territory subjected to the Israeli occupation brutal force. No one to blame but the Israeli occupation forces. We do believe in our right to resist our occupier and aggressor and our national duty of defending our land. The existence of Israel is the only thing that puts us, as civilians, in danger.  Palestinians have the right to choose who they want to govern them, Hamas or Fatah, and Israel should stop intervening in the Palestinian reconciliation which brought about this tragic situation.

I feel sorry for Israelis because they allow their government and soldiers to commit massacres in their name and allow Israeli forces to shell Gaza from settlements near Gaza border. If you don’t speak against this genocide, you are complicit in it. The murderers of kids and women should not be celebrated in the Occupation State of Israel and shelling Gaza should not be a pleasant scene that Israelis watch from towns on the other side of the border.

Israel suffocates our life in the Gaza Strip, people are mentally and physically exhausted because of the long-term siege imposed on the coastal enclave as a collective punishment for more than 1.85 million residents, human beings who are deprived one basic right: “the right to life”.

The root cause of the problem is Israel’s occupation. To end this tragedy that inflicts Palestinians the most, occupation must end and equal protection and rights must be granted to all people.

Walaa Ghussein

Walaa Al Ghussein is from Gaza, Palestine. She is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large and has worked as a reporter and fixer/translator for international news agencies including Al-Jazeera English, International Business Times, and others.

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23 Responses

  1. JustJessetr on July 15, 2014, 3:14 pm

    Where is the money to build the shelters, Hamas???? Where did it go??? Do you not care about the people who elected you???

    Is there ONE shelter in all of Gaza that your people can run to???

    • eljay on July 15, 2014, 3:36 pm

      >> JustaJestereee: Where is the money to build the shelters, Hamas???? Where did it go???

      Where are your F16s and other high-tech weaponry, Hamas???? Where did they go??? Oh, that’s right – you weren’t given any.

      Where is your 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction, torture and murder, Hamas???? Where did it go??? Oh, that’s right – you don’t have one. You’re the occupied, not the occupier.

    • jenin on July 15, 2014, 3:39 pm

      yes, yes, that’s right, let’s blame Hamas for not building shelters for people whose homes are being blown to bits and whose children are being killed right and left.

      NOT Israel for bombing Gaza in the first place, and NOT Israel for continuing an ILLEGAL occupation and continuing to virtually hold hostage an entire population in Gaza. There is no level too low for Israel’s defenders to sink

    • Eva Smagacz on July 15, 2014, 5:00 pm

      Well you are either a troll are you really are trying to show us the depth of the cynicism that Zionists can reach.
      What are you trying to do?
      Are you trying to turn Mondoweiss into cyberspace Versailles and yourself into French Queen Mary Antoinette, who, so the legend tells us, when she heard that people in Paris and around France have no bread and are starving, responded, with a question “Why will they not eat cakes?”
      Her words, so the legend says, started a riot that turned into French Revolution and ended up with her, her entire royal family, and most of her aristocratic peers, (who considered themselves to be superior (dare I say chosen?) to the common man) being killed on the guillotine.

    • elephantine on July 15, 2014, 7:39 pm

      @JustJessetr

      There’s one thing I’ve thought over and over recently, whenever someone has come up with some callous and ridiculous comment such as this one.. from some Israel apologist incapable of doing anything other than always trying to deflect responsibility, find a way -any way- to make this about Hamas.. what pops into my head every single time is ‘Don’t these apologists have ANY decency at all?’ I mean, really. You should be ashamed.

      Just a tip, it’s not actually convincing. In fact, it’s offensive, disturbing and accomplishes the opposite of what you’re going for. It looks like you might be losing your own humanity.. It doesn’t make Israel or yourself look good so you might want to take some time for self reflection and ask yourself if you like the person you’ve become. I can’t imagine how you could. We haven’t seem much but you’ve shown us enough to be able to tell it’s pretty ugly.

      While you deal with that, you should really keep quiet instead of digging an even deeper hole for yourself.

      • JustJessetr on July 15, 2014, 9:35 pm

        I’m no apologist for Israel. Israel does horrible things to Palestinians in the name of God know what. But if war breaks out, I take my own side in a fight, that’s all.

        That you all refuse to address the question I posited, now THAT’S ugly. Every national resistance movement I’ve read about provided protection for it’s populace: the North Vietnamese had tunnels and placed cement enclosures along vast stretches of boulevard, the North Koreans built bomb shelters, the British had The Tube. Hamas is looting the aid it’s given and squandering the rest on armaments. I don’t see your response as pro-Palestinian, I see it as you just like to bash Israel and question the humanity of people you’ve never met from the safety of your own bedroom. How the hell does that help Palestinians?

      • peeesss on July 16, 2014, 2:34 am

        JustJessier. your bringing up of the wonderful protection provided by the Vietnamese and Koreans for their people against the onslaught of the United States is quite warped to say the least. The Vietnamese lost some 3, ooo,ooo dead and wounded , the whole country a “free fire zone”, dikes blown up, a massive extermination of a people. The “tunnels ” mentioned were for the resistance armed forces of the Vietnamese. The “North” Koreans suffered the same faith, million dead, dikes blown up, cities and villages fire bombed. In both the Vietnam and Korean conflicts the vast majority of the dead, wounded, maimed were , of course, civilians , men , women and children. As a senior citizen, I don’t remember the people running to air raid shelters or those protective “cement enclosures” you apparently dreamed up. When a third world people face a first world military superpower, there is no mercy and no protection. Especially an occupied people oppressed for decades. In particular in Gaza against a helpless civilian population, occupied, starved, blockaded by the air, sea and ground. An open air prison teeming with refugees and their descendants of the past 67 years, 50% under the age of sixteen. Since you care so much about the safety of the Palestinian people how do you justify the deliberate bombing of their electrical cord, water wells, the whole of the infrastructure that your Israeli moral force conveniently bombs. You haven’t lost your humanity. I dare say you have none.

      • eljay on July 16, 2014, 7:16 am

        >> Every national resistance movement I’ve read about provided protection for it’s populace: the North Vietnamese had tunnels and placed cement enclosures along vast stretches of boulevard, the North Koreans built bomb shelters, the British had The Tube. Hamas is looting the aid it’s given and squandering the rest on armaments.

        Does Gaza receive sufficient concrete and other building materials to permit the construction of bomb shelters? Or does it only (barely?) get what it needs to build civilian buildings (dwellings, stores, etc.) and necessary infrastructure?

        Regardless, if the citizens of Gaza were to build bomb shelters you can be 100% certain that Israel would claim Hamas was building “terror infrastructure” and would do its best to destroy it.

    • DICKERSON3870 on July 15, 2014, 8:08 pm

      RE: “Where is the money to build the shelters, Hamas???? Where did it go??? Do you not care about the people who elected you???” ~ JustJessetr

      MY REPLY: If Hamas built shelters (assuming that Israel would allow the materials to build them into Gaza), what’s to stop Likudnik Israel from then using the mammoth “bunker buster” bombs that the Obama Administration has supplied them with?
      The U.S. Congress?

      • DICKERSON3870 on July 15, 2014, 8:20 pm

        P.S. SEE: “Israel Is Set To Receive 5,000 US Bunker Buster Bombs After Delaying Its Attack On Iran”, by Michael B. Kelley, businessinsider.com, Dec. 13, 2012
        LINK – http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-sale-of-5000-bunker-buster-bombs-to-israel-israel-bunker-busters-in-exchange-for-not-striking-iran-2012-12

      • JustJessetr on July 15, 2014, 9:39 pm

        Thank you, Dickerson. For at least addressing my question, if only obliquely.

        Nothing would stop Israel from using bunker-busters, but is that a reason for Hamas to not build bomb shelters of any kind?

      • SQ Debris on July 16, 2014, 3:04 pm

        The PLO built concrete shelters in Rashidiyya camp in southern Lebanon. When Israel invaded in 1982 it drove armored vehicles to the entrances and fired shells into them. This made the shelters into death traps on par with gas chambers. The Palestinian resistance, perhaps, took that as a lesson – don’t put too many civilians in one place. It makes it too easy for Israel to kill them en-mass. There is no bottom to the zionist drive to liquidate Palestinians.

    • Mooser on July 16, 2014, 9:46 pm

      “Is there ONE shelter in all of Gaza…”

      Oh, please, spare me this insulting garbage, huh? I’ve seen the photos of the results of Israeli bombing raids. No “shelter” is going to help with that, there are blocks of complete destruction. So how do you get out of your shelter when a building has collapsed on it. Really, that is pathetic.

    • talknic on July 16, 2014, 11:32 pm

      @ JustJessetr “Where is the money to build the shelters, Hamas????”

      Can’t build shelters with money, it takes steel, concrete, equipment

      “Do you not care about the people who elected you???”

      They are the people who elected them you stupid stupid person! Say … where did your sudden burst of compassion come from other than the need to demonize Hamas whose numbers are drawn from the people who elected them

      “Is there ONE shelter in all of Gaza that your people can run to???”

      Being buried alive under apartment blocks flattened by Israel’s modern precision human slaughtering devices isn’t exactly ideal.

  2. Stephen Shenfield on July 15, 2014, 5:35 pm

    Let’s not be too cynical about JustJessetr’s comment. At least it expresses concern for the welfare of people in Gaza, and the large number of question marks suggests the depth and sincerity of his concern. That is why I expect him to support alternative ways of protecting Gaza residents against bombing raids — options that could be implemented more quickly and at less cost than building deep reinforced shelters for a million and a half people. First of all, as a purely temporary expedient, the next time hostilities break out why not open the border and welcome refugees from Gaza into Israeli bomb shelters? Second, why not supply Gaza with Stinger missiles to shoot down any bombers that enter its airspace? I am confident that JustJessetr will support my suggestions and come up with a few more of his own.

    • JustJessetr on July 15, 2014, 11:22 pm

      I would support Hamas having Stinger missles while Israel had the Iron Dome. Perhaps if no one could kill each other, there might be space for some kind of dialogue.

      And yes, in principle I like the idea of Gazans taking refuge in Israeli shelters. Of course, in principle Hamas wouldn’t let that happen.

      And however much it costs to build bomb shelters in Gaza, the PA and Hamas have plenty of international aid. They have the money! Why they don’t spend it on bomb shelters is obvious.

      Oh, and as for my own suggestion, it’s not new: Hamas should change it’s charter. Finally!

      • Mooser on July 16, 2014, 9:49 pm

        “And however much it costs to build bomb shelters in Gaza, the PA and Hamas have plenty of international aid. They have the money!”

        I’m sorry, Jesse, the browser must have eaten your links substantiating those ridiculous statements. Why not post them again, proving the adequacy of Gaza’s resources?

      • talknic on July 16, 2014, 11:44 pm

        @ JustJessetr

        ” Perhaps if no one could kill each other, there might be space for some kind of dialogue”

        Perhaps if Israel adhered to International Law and the UN Charter and withdrew from all non-Israeli territory it has illegally acquired since being proclaimed ” as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ there wouldn’t even be need for dialogue …. just astronomical reparations that the Jewish State has simply never been able to afford.

        “And however much it costs to build bomb shelters in Gaza, the PA and Hamas have plenty of international aid”

        International aid doesn’t come as cash and if it did, they would have to import steel and concrete and machinery and all manner of stuff prohibited and/or restricted through ALL borders by “Israel, the Occupying Power”

        “Oh, and as for my own suggestion, it’s not new: Hamas should change it’s charter. Finally!”

        Including Article Thirty-One: “As to those who have not borne arms against you on account of religion, nor turned you out of your dwellings, Allah forbiddeth you not to deal kindly with them, and to behave justly towards them; for Allah loveth those who act justly.” ?

        Say will Lukid change its charter?

  3. Andre on July 15, 2014, 6:56 pm

    My heart cries for you and the people in Gaza, Walaa. I’m doing everything I can to raise awareness about the decades long and ongoing Palestinian people’s plight and suffering. Big hug from The Netherlands!

  4. DICKERSON3870 on July 15, 2014, 8:02 pm

    RE: “As we sat down to break the fast, everything in the house started smashing and flying”

    ONE WAY PEOPLE CAN HELP:


    Please make a tax-deductible donation payable to The Gaza Mental Health Foundation Inc.

    Your gift will be sent to The Gaza Community Mental Health Program, which is providing vital mental health support to the traumatized families of the Gaza Strip.
    Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
    To donate, please print out brochure or send a check with your name, address, telephone number, and email address to:

    Gaza Mental Health Foundation
    PO Box 380273
    Cambridge MA 02238

    SOURCE: Gaza Mental Health Foundation – http://www.gazamentalhealth.org/

    P.S.
    GAZA MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION – BOARD OF DIRECTORS
    Bill Slaughter, President
    Donald McInnes, Treasurer
    Hilary Rantisi, Clerk
    Devin Atallah
    J. Timothy Davis
    Nancy Murray
    Alice Rothchild
    Sara Roy
    Ahmad Tahaha

    GAZA MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION – ADVISORY COMMITTEE
    Cindy & Craig Corrie
    Jess Ghannam
    Ellis Goldberg
    Elaine Hagopian
    David Hall
    John Pirroni
    Yale Rabin
    Ted Rynearson
    Therese Saliba
    Tom Suarez
    David Trimble

    SOURCE (CLICK ON “ABOUT”) – http://www.gazamentalhealth.org/

  5. annie on July 15, 2014, 8:17 pm

    thank you so very very much walaa. for sharing, for being who you are, for your sumud, for staying alive.

  6. mascraig on July 16, 2014, 10:33 am

    JustJessetr isn’t just callous, as some have said, he’s a racist. He’s accepted the Israeli narrative that the Palestinian resistance just doesn’t value human life, use its people as human shields, shoots rockets right from the center of their living rooms (as the family breaks fast, probably), and hides missiles in the patient rooms of Al-Wafa Hospital . These soul-less, sub-human animals surely wouldn’t build bomb shelters for their shields – that’s defeating the purpose of human shields, isn’t it?!

    What our friend JustJessetr misses, aside from the fact that he’s your typical, run-of-the-mill racist, is that when he compares the Palestinians of Gaza to North Korea or North Vietnam, neither of those countries (note, countries) was under a total air, land, and sea siege of their territory. They were able to resist because they had access to the world around them, resources, aid. They had larger areas from which to operate and manage a war (and, btw those were wars in the true sense of the word where both sides were at least able to battle one another with reasonable effect, though at least the latter was still asymmetrical). People could flee the country if they chose though in Vietnam, and the expansion of the war to surrounding countries, that did the Vietnamese little good. One part of the country could evacuate to another part of the country. Etc. Another point, that JesseJessetr misses, easily perhaps since he’s missed so many others, is that the world has changed a bit since both of those wars. Back then, we lived in a bi- or multi-polared world. There was the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, a more radical China, the Non-Aligned Nations, other national liberation movements that were of significance. There were major players to balance an imperial US and a run-amok Israel. When Israel/Britain/France invaded Egypt in 1956, the US forced all three to retreat, not out of goodwill but after threats from the SU. North Korea and Vietnam had tremendous support from superpowers – arms, money, food, logistics, etc. What does Gaza have? Where are the open borders? Where is the superpower that airlifts arms, supplies, CONCRETE, money to the national liberation movement? Where is the counter-balance? It doesn’t exist. The Palestinian liberation movement works in the most hostile environment to people seeking their freedom in modern history. And on top of that, it battles a corrupt and collaborationist PA that has all but given away the country and its resources to the Zionists, and blurred the lines between occupied and ‘disputed’ territories (in the eyes of the international community).

    And as for vast quantities of international aid, mate, you should really not drink and write. What aid to Hamas are you talking about? From where? Squandered? Seriously?! Gaza lies in ruins from two onslaughts ago and you’re talking as though all the billions that came in for reconstruction were spent on casino trips to Macau. Aid doesn’t arrive to Gaza. What is SMUGGLED in goes to the utter basics of life (and, yes, building defences also qualifies as the ‘basics of life’). They aren’t the PA, you know.

    So, the bottom line, you’re just another racist. You can’t see the brutality of what is being inflicted because you’re bought into the mainline narrative of the oppressor. And you’re out, always, is to blame the victim. Oh, if only those pesky Jews in Europe weren’t so, ahm, Jewish, soooooo many of them wouldn’t have had to die. God damn racists…

    (and you included Britain in the list?? seriously???)

    • Mooser on July 16, 2014, 9:52 pm

      Yup, mascraig, you can’t win with Zionists. One day they are telling us how Israel is bringing “Western Values” to the Middle East, and in the same breath excoriating the West for its anti-Semitism, and using every western atrocity as an excuse for their own.

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