8 months After Cast Lead – Yousef from Gaza

I was born on the 13th of May, 1989, during the second Intifada against the Israeli occupation in Palestine. My family was so happy for having a child, and hoped that this child may live a better life then they lived. Soon, I grew up as the Palestinian tragedy grew, hoped to find a promised future, I was knocked with our reality. Seeing the checkpoints- when I was a child of 3 or 4- surrounding our roads and dozens of soldiers there. Many times, the Israel soldiers entered our house in a savage way, shouting and attacking everything. This picture still has its place in my mind.

I grew up and went to the school to start my first year in a different place. I started that year eagerly and I was so thirsty for knowledge. One day, My mother decided to visits her parents in Jericho, where she is from. I went with her as my family did. There I met many relatives who took a place in my heart and I still remember them till now. Since that time, my family tragedy started to develop with the passing days and it became worse. Since that time, I think 2000, we were not allowed to visit our relatives in the West Bank and we are still prevented from doing so. My grandfather passed away in 2003 and we were not allowed to share in his mourning. My mother felt so sad deep down, at the time, and hoped to get another chance to visit her mother, brothers and sisters. My father came back from the West Bank, where he was working a company and stayed with his family in Gaza, we had not seen him for 5 years. Five months later, dozens of Israeli soldiers attacked our camp and murdered more than 14 Palestinians, unfortunately, my biggest brother was one of them. He committed no crime, except he is a Palestinian. That event effected my life completely. You know, it’s not an easy thing to lose a brother, particularly if that brother is one of the best you ever know. I started my life again after months of crying, hoped to find a better future than the one I left behind.

During that time, I lost many friends and I faced many tragic events. Many friends who studied with me, in school, were murdered and the others still alive till this moment. Later on, I entered the secondary school and I was a very good student. My teacher loved me. Visiting the West Bank in that period was one of my dreams, I wanted to see my relatives, as all people do in this world. “Security reasons” is the biggest lie that prevents us from crossing Gaza to the West Bank. We tried many times, but we could not visit the West Bank. My relatives grew up and many new babies came!

Wafting my destiny in Gaza , I entered 12th grade. My family was so happy and they encouraged me to get high grades, in order to enroll in the university. I started from the first moment; Reading and I designed a time table, to follow. Life seems bad with Hamas-Fatah clashes, however I kept reading as I used to. After that, I reached my final exams! Started to reap what I have planted during the year. My biggest sister who had married during that year became very ill. The doctors said that she needed immediate surgery and this operation does not exist in Gaza, as a result of the Israeli measures. They decided to send her to the West Bank. But the Israeli authorities prevented her from crossing for "security reasons" Her situation became very dangerous with the passing of days. Rafah crossing was closed and she was not able to go abroad to get medicine, Rafah crossing was hardly opened for a day, when she finally left Gaza. She reached Egypt too late! The situation was very, very dangerous. And she passed away at the crossing, while I was being checked! The Israeli authorities prevented her from coming back to Gaza, even when she passed away. A week later, they allowed her to cross by an Israeli crossing called Kerem shalom. In that period I was doing my exams and I shared in her mourning. I felt so sad deep down, but I decided to complete my exams and life. Days later I had finished my tests. It would come to pass that my aunt passed away in UAE and we were not allow to share in her mourn, either!

These events effected my mother and father, as well as all my relatives. We started a new period. In which the biggest title is the SIEGE [2005]. We suffered from lack of medicine, food, freedom of movement, electricity, water and a severe lack of gas. The whole world saw our conditions in Gaza and they did nothing, except some demonstrations and activities. Hundreds of people followed my sister who was the first victim of the siege, and they have their place in the "death list", while many have been waiting their destiny. The number of people who passed away, as a result of the unfair siege, reaches 348 by now. The Israeli siege failed in achieving its goal, however, the conditions in Gaza are considered the worst in the world.

In 27th of December the Israeli government started a devastating war by attacking dozens of centers at the same moments. Around 300 people were murdered in one of the most lethal days, during the last 8 years. Everybody wes shocked by the number of victims, particularly, most of them were civilians. The war continues and the Palestinian blood spilled. The Israeli soldiers entered Gaza and destroyed thousands of schools, houses, hospitals, streets and trees. They used a huge number of rockets and around 250.000 tons were used in 22 days against the strip, its length 265 km. Hundreds of thousands were displaced and they still are now. whole families were murdered and around 7000 people were injured. Israel used its power to destroy everything in Gaza while the international world started huge demonstrations all over the world to end the Israeli Holocaust in Gaza. The war ended, but its results will never end. A new generation of children who witnessed their families murders will never forget that war. They will never forget the loud explosions around them and the white phosphorous. They will never forget the sound of planes and the pictures of martyrs. They lived in darkness and still do, but they dream of a promised future without occupation. And we’re all sure that tomorrow will be different and better than today.

After the war, we came back to practice our normal life. Sadness still exists in people’s eyes, particularly people who lost their sons and houses. Electricity turned off 8 hours a day, for 2 days, lack of medicine and food. Now, I am an English student at IUG. I dream to be a translator and I hope to learn German and Hebrew. Also, I hope to visit my relatives in the West Bank, Jordan, Qatar and UAE . Our life is so tough, but you can say that we adapted to it. Sometimes I feel it’s strange if we get a normal life, because we’re used to cry and to lose.

Finally, I would like to send a message to Israel, our martyrs and all peace activists and freedom fighters:

To Israel- murdering, occupation and racial discrimination will never bring peace. Occupation must end now. Now sooner, or later.

Our martyrs- the new Nazi, who suffered from a Nazi, murdered you. And your bodies left us, but your souls will never leave us. You live in our hearts. Believe that Justice will win over injustice. Democracy will win over dictatorship. Freedom fighters and all innocent people will defeat the occupation. Your names will be recorded in honor lists while theirs will be recorded in shame.

To all freedom fighters all over the world- We will not go down in Palestine. Thank you for paying attention and for efforts you spent and still spend for Palestine.

Yousef, Gaza

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