24 Hours in Gaza

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of my participation in the Viva Palestina delegation. There is
amazing local solidarity for justice in Palestine, and many
people gave generously to make my trip possible.
The Viva Palestina delegation, led by British Member of
Parliament, George Galloway and former Green Party Presidential
candidate, Cynthia McKinney, negotiated one bureaucratic
obstacle after another from Egyptian authorities. The
convoy finally left for the Rafah border crossing after several
days with some of its supplies barred from getting through.
The delegation of solidarity activists was allowed to
enter Gaza on July 15 with truckloads of desperately needed
humanitarian supplies—but under the condition that
the convoy leave again within 24 hours.
On Thursday morning, we began with a tour of the
destruction. Everything and everyone was targeted.
Mosques were destroyed and graveyards shelled. In fact,
you will find none of the minarets common to most
mosques throughout the Middle East, because they were all
bombed. Destruction of religious institutions is a war crime.
We saw shelled hospitals and burned out ambulances rotting
away in ruins—all part of the detritus of Gaza. There has
been little reconstruction because the over two-year siege by
Israel has made materials scarce. Basic medical supplies,
pencils, and even footballs are forbidden from entry.
Pictures of the destruction of the American International
School in Gaza have been shown around the world. We
were all shocked at this example of the extreme, savage
brutality of the Israeli government. It’s important to note
that while this destruction of the American school was
deplorable, there were several Palestinian schools, even
elementary schools, likewise bombed into rubble.
Civilians were targeted. We saw holes and pockmarks in
many concrete apartment dwellings where the Israelis had
shot shells into civilian quarters in what is also classified by
International Law as a war crime. White phosphorus, illegal
when used against civilian targets, was used here, just as
it was by the US against the people of Fallujah.
One picture shows children playing near refuse piles as
seen from our bus tour. Gazans have no services, such as
trash disposal, amenities that we take for granted in the US.
We drove through the northern part of Gaza in the area
of Jabaliya where the worst destruction was evident.
Where other parts of Gaza had partially wrecked buildings
and remnants still standing, this entire working-class area
was almost completely leveled. We witnessed the ruins of
a concrete factory, a stone and building factory, and a juice
factory. The attacks destroyed not only buildings, but people
who were at work there as well. Israeli targets included
people and their means of livelihood.
All around we saw graffiti like, “Steadfast, we will not
give up despite the siege,” on almost every small storefront
and apartment dwelling. Gaza graffiti comes in four kinds.
One is for electioneering and political campaigns. Another
marks where a particular political faction has control, such
as, “Hamas resisted for the protection of the city.” We also
saw “Al-Aqsa Brigade” and “Freedom Fighters Brigade.” A
third type marked where a martyr had given his or her life.
One announced, “Here is the mother of a hero.”
The final category includes political and social messages.
We were moved by the power and will of Gazans to
endure and struggle, as captured in these art forms of
grassroots resistance with slogans like: “Unity is a bounty
and a blessing to the resistance”; “The strength of our
community is the hallmark of our civilization”;
“Jerusalem will always be the capital of Palestine”; “Resistance
and struggle is the way to victory”; “Our future is
bright”; “With patriotism and unity, we will move forward”;
“Make your voice heard”; and “A commitment to
martyrs, refugees and our Jerusalem.”
In speaking with many of the volunteer translators, I
asked them what they wanted Americans to know.
Mohamad Aldada, who lives in Jabaliya said:
I hope that peace will spread among our country
in order that we may live as the whole people among
the world and have our rights. I had 17 neighbors
killed during the war, including 10 who were in one
house, and they were mostly women and children.
During the bombing, we were scared, and now we
have so many children suffering from psychological
pains. Whenever they hear a loud noise, they cry out,
“A bomb! A bomb!” and start crying.
In fact, a recent study found that 73% of Gaza children
are suffering from behavioral disorders due to the Israeli
war, and there is a significant deterioration in the psychological
well being of children living in the Gaza Strip.
Mohamad continued:
We had so many martyrs that we buried. When
there was a martyr, the sheik informed the neighborhood
by chanting from the mosque, and we then
prepared a public burial. From everywhere, Israel
was so brutal and savage. We had funerals every day,
so many funerals. It was like hell. Darkness was all
around, even during the day. The streets were empty,
and no one could work. The bombs surrounded us.
Mohamad added that in northern Jabaliya at Beit Lahia,
near where he lived,
The people now practice their daily life, because
there’s nothing to be afraid of from the U.S.-made
bombs, tanks, F-16s and helicopters any longer.
They aren’t afraid because so many of their family
members were killed. They feel like they have nothing
left to fear. People prefer to practice their daily
life as if it was before the war. They are not afraid
because so many of their family members were
killed. They feel like they have nothing left to fear.
Another translator, Mahmoud Elhajjar commented:
The last war on Gaza was beyond description, it is
hard to describe the situation when you are near to
death, the whole areas are burning around you and
the sky is full of different kinds of Israel’s fighter
planes hitting everything that moves. So what I would
like to say and what I would like Americans to know
is that we live in a tightened deadly siege. We need for
all of the free world, and especially the Americans, to
increase the pressure and their efforts more and more
to break the intolerable siege. We, as Palestinians, just
want to live in peace, nothing but peace.
After the tour we went to a special meeting of family
members whose children have been detained and are in
Israeli jails. We put a face to one of the detainees via a picture
a man shared with us of his son.
After we delivered the supplies to the hospital, we returned
to the hotel for a final ceremony of thanks and salutations. The
day had been so busy that it was difficult to fully grasp the
import and meaning of the past 24 hours. I can say that I never
felt sadness throughout the day. In retrospect, I wonder why
my emotions felt buried, stunted, and cut off from the day’s
events. I believe it is because of the surreal mixture of life in
Gaza–a people who continue to struggle and resist amid a landscape
of rubble and carnage where most would have long ago
given up. The Palestinians I met did not want pity–they wanted
peace “so that we may live as the whole people among the
world and have our rights.” The people I met did not want us
to feel anguish, they instead requested allies in the struggle for
justice. The courageous and welcoming Palestinians in Gaza
have no need for misery, they want a Movement to demand the
Boycott, Sanction, and Divestment from Israel. They deserve
our solidarity, our support, and our spirited resistance.
For more on Viva Palestina, please go to

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