Areej Ali-Al-ashhab is a full-time field coordinator at the Gender Initiative Program at the United Nations Relief Works Agency and a part-time English teacher at AMIDEAST (America-Mideast Educational and Training Services) in Gaza City.
In late 2008/early 2009, her university, the Islamic University of Gaza, was partially destroyed in the 22-day Israeli assault dubbed “Operation Cast Lead” that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. During the 2012 assault “Operation Pillar of Cloud,” bombing shattered the windows of her family’s home and destroyed much of their personal belongings.
Her account of life in the Gaza Strip during the first few days of Israel’s latest assault is republished from www.socialistworker.org
There are stories of civilian families and babies being killed, homes being destroyed over the heads of people, and all you can hear is bombing in all directions. People here were living their “normal” lives, getting by with the minimum of the human needs, scarce fresh water, electricity outages and dwindling supplies of medicine until news of three missing Israeli settlers came from the West Bank.
Everyone in Gaza expected an escalation even though it happened in the West Bank. Indeed, what we expected came true, and the Zionist Israeli army started targeting Gaza. When the teenager Mohammed Abu Khadeir was killed and burned alive, the news of the uprising in the West Bank and 1948 areas started to get out. At that moment, we all felt the fear of what was to happen next–another attack on us.
Four days ago, the bombardments started, and it continues without pause as I am writing these words. All that we do as Gazans now is await our destiny, as anyone of us could be a target for Israeli warplanes or warships. All that we do now is searching the news for the numbers of victims and the stories behind each and every one of them.
Whole families killed in cold blood. Mothers and their little sons and daughters as well.
LIKE EVERY family in Gaza, we took safety precautions such as removing the glass panes from our windows and stocking our house with food. It brought back memories of the last two wars over Gaza when we were trapped at home, doing nothing but waiting for whatever came next. This time, I cleared out my room and stowed away my official documents, such as my diploma, passport and ID card, to protect them from the same shrapnel that could take my life. If a ground invasion occurs, we will move to my aunt’s apartment, which is safer, but away from government buildings.
You might think that the people of Gaza have gotten used to Israel’s military offensives after living through the brutality of the 2009 and 2012 attacks, but no, this time is different. The Israelis are going crazy this time because they cannot destroy the infrastructure of the resistance forces in Gaza. They cannot predict what the resistance might do to them as they try to come up with unique ways to fight the Zionists behind the lines between Gaza and so-called Israel.
This aggression is occurring during the holy month of Ramadan when we fast for 16 hours a day. Many of those martyred so far have been kids who were fasting.
I call upon the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in the U.S. and all over the world to spread the word about what’s happening in Gaza. Right now, we only hear the silence of governments. I ask you to pressure your government to help stop this aggression directed at the 1.8 million civilians who are besieged in the Gaza Strip.
► NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION FOR GAZA: March and rally in central London. Assemble 12 noon at Downing Street. – See more from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign here.