PALESTINE: 'We are still here, living'

November 17, 1993

The following is abridged from a July 6 blog entry by Lama Hourani, the coordinator of the Palestinian Working Women Society for Development in Gaza.

Hanan, a field educator in our organisation, lives in the northern area of Gaza City. A beautiful, happy, funny lady, who loves to imitate people, which she does very well. A lady who makes you laugh in the most terrible times. Hanan is a lady with great pride. She is a refugee from Al Khisas, a village in Al Majdal, which is now in the southern part of Israel.

Her parents, like many other Palestinians, fled in 1948 to the Gaza Strip. Hanan was born in Gaza in 1967, married Ali in 1985, after his liberation from an Israeli jail in which he spent 14 years (he was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in an exchange of prisoners). They have now four beautiful kids: Maisa, 20; Rima, 18; Muhammed, 16; and Wisam, 12.

When I woke up this morning, I heard that the Israeli tanks were near Hanan's house, so I called her and told her not to come to work. She said, "I am getting dressed. Don't worry, Lama. They are one kilometre from our house. We [are] all OK. I will come. Besides, Maisa has an examination at the university so she has already left and I don't want her to be alone in Gaza so I will come and wait for her to finish the exam and take her back home."

When I came to work half an hour later Hanan called and said, "The Israeli tanks are near my house. I can't come."

Around nine o'clock Hanan called and said, "The tanks are destroying our garden, all of the trees and everything. We are all sitting in the basement." We could hear the sound of the tanks and the shooting. She asked us to call Maisa when she finished the exam and tell her to go to her uncle's house. The line was interrupted.

Four days ago, Hanan came with two acinuses of green grapes. She said, "You always ask me about them, Lama. I know you cook them with grape leaves and Raghda (a volunteer in our work) likes to eat them with salt." When she was talking on the phone about their garden I immediately told her: "Don't worry. I still have my acinus. I will give them to you to plant after they leave."

Now the mobiles of both Hanan and Ali are closed for some reason. Maybe they didn't have electricity yesterday in order to charge them.

At 11 o'clock Maisa called, crying, "Aunty Lama, what happened to my family? The land phone is not working and the mobiles are closed." We calmed her down as much as we could and asked her to come to the office. She came and until now she doesn't know that their garden has been ruined.

All of this is going on while the funeral of yesterday's martyrs was passing by our office with all the shooting. The Apaches were shooting from their machine guns with a loud voice, the F-16s are flying, and the no-pilot planes, too.

The electricity was going and coming. Still I had to take care of a volunteer in our office, to make sure that she got home safely in the south of Gaza City. I had to make sure where my husband is, like everybody in the office [I] was making sure about the position of each member of the family. I asked the employees who live in the north to go to their families and stay with them.

I'm worried about Hanan and her family and I'm worried about everybody else living there now. Especially when I hear the news about the ambulances that are not allowed to go into the area, and that [Israeli forces] are shooting at them and not allowing them to enter.

I hear also in the radio the people asking the ambulances to come and pick up a girl that was shot by the Israelis while she was filling water for her family. They don't know if she's alive or not. She's 15 years old. Her name is Muna. People are calling the radio stations, saying "What is going on? They have arrested all of the men. They took their mobiles and are shooting at anything moving."

But still I'm working; I have to draft an appeal to the international community about the situation here. I have to write my quarterly report to my supervisor.

Today is Thursday. Tomorrow our weekend begins and I will plan something to do outside the house with my friends.

Yes, don't be surprised! No matter what they do to us: bomb, destroy, kill, wound, cut electricity or water, whatever. We will not forget that we are still human beings and have the right to live normally under normal conditions. We have the right to love, make love, work, sleep, hate, eat, dance and enjoy our lives. And all of this is proof that we are still here, living.



[Reprinted from <>.]

From Green Left Weekly, July 19, 2006.
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