Testimony of Al Ataa Librarian

Sunday 15 February 2015

Is it my fault that I am a Palestinian? Days of Horror

Testimony of the Libriaran Abla Hamad*

On 21/7/2014, the 23rd day of the month of Ramadan at 8 o’clock in the morning, my elder sister, who had come to live in my father’s house after the shells of the Israeli aggressors, had destroyed her house, called me to tell me prepare your things because we are moving to Jabalia because the situation in Beit Hanoun is difficult and worsening day after day.

Most of the area’s people have left because of the heavy shelling on their homes. I was very hesitant but the situation and the sound of bombing getting louder made me agree.

I prepared some simple clothes for my little child and took some important papers and got in the car only to be surprised, that my husband, brothers and father do not want to come out because the place in my parents’ home was not damaged and the shells are far from them; in any emergency they can run without the women and children. My husband told me after that what happened.

We headed towards an apartment in the area of Jabalia at a relative’s place to find that many families are heading to her place to escape death and the shells of destruction. We women sat in a little room and each one told what had happened with her and what she had seen in terms of damage and destruction. We sat until the afternoon and everyone was calling those who remained in Beit Hanoun for reassurance on their situation.

In the morning the shells were far away but in the afternoon people started preparing some juice for their fast breaking on a hard Ramadan day. But, after the Israeli occupation started targeting civilian areas, my elder brother called and asked if there was any place for them. We said yes even though there was not. In half an hour everyone arrived and we were relieved.

They told us of the difficulty of the situation and the aggression becoming very brutal. Its tanks, planes, shells, and rockets were targeting everyone, stone, trees and people; they had survived by a divine miracle! The house was targeted with a number of shells as well as all the surrounding their area.

We decided that some of us should leave as the place became very crowded and there are no essentials of living like water, mattresses etc.

I went out with my husband, my child Sajed and my sister, her husband and four children to an empty place owned by the friend of my sister’s husband in the Gaza area.

We went on foot for a long distance to reach the place before the call to prayer of the fast breaking, by an hour. We found that the place was not inhabited and there was nothing there. But this was not the hard part, nor that we were fasting but that the occupation forces targeted an apartment in a tower near to the place that we reached, and my child was hit in his forehead. I could not contain myself, so my husband carried him and went to the Shifa hospital for treatment, it was close to us.

My sister’s husband bought some essentials like water, bread and food for a difficult fast breaking of Ramadan. There was no other place where we could live. We had to buy some essentials for the house to live in dignity in spite of the difficult financial situation. We spent very difficult days.

Every minute we heard the sounds of explosions. We hear that those we know and love fell martyrs and the houses of relatives and friends were destroyed, even the mosques of the worship of God were bombed, and many other things.

It was shocking for me to hear that the aggressors had targeted a place close to my heart as my home, my association in which I work and which embraced me and a lot of children, and our library which we built with persistence with the support of IBBY. But, for the occupation planes to target a charitable association which takes care of children, women, and youth, this means that hope of finding any secure place is lost.

On a Ramadan day there was a humanitarian truce between the two sides. My husband went with some others to bring some clothes for my child and some things for us from the house. Everybody went to check on their homes, and found Beit Hanoun had become a destroyed area in the whole sense of the word.

Whole neighborhoods were destroyed, people killed under the ruins of their homes, martyrs in the tens. The situation was tragic. A big number of the population broke their fast that day as a result of the tragedy and shock.

Members of the family returned peacefully, we saw in their eyes the scale of the tragedy. Men cried. Trees, stones, homes, infrastructure, even the animal and bird were not spared.

After difficult days of displacement I had my second shock when I heard that my home was completely destroyed by an F16 Zionist plane which buried the walls and furniture but could not bury the will of life!

We heard that the last truce had come, so we gathered all our things and headed at night to Beit Hanoun. After the last truce of the aggression I saw destruction and ruins of hundreds of homes in my little city. I saw in the ruins of my home how much hatred the Zionists have for the Palestinian presence. The occupation deprived us from living in our homes and deprived our children from playing with their toys and from sleeping in their beds.

Sadness, challenge, strength and philanthropic ruled my days. Did the Gaza strip spend a Ramadan month or a feast day like this one? It is my pride to be Palestinian and to love Palestine!

Abla Ismail Hamad

Libriaran of the destroyed library al-Ataa

October 2014

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