Voices from Gaza: Survivors speak out

The ceasefire holds for now, but many in Gaza fear it will be broken unless the Palestinian factions’ demands are met.

'If I were to describe this last month: It was a war of terror,' Umm Salam said [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]
'If I were to describe this last month: It was a war of terror,' Umm Salam said [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

Gaza Strip – A month has passed since the Israeli offensive on Gaza began. Palestinians in the besieged territory are still tending their wounds after four weeks of war and destruction.

Israel said on Wednesday night that they are willing to extend the 72-hour ceasefire that took effect on Tuesday. However, this comes amid a general feeling among Gazans that the offensive could begin again tomorrow, since Hamas has announced that it has no intention of extending the current ceasefire so long as the Palestinian factions’ conditions are not met.

Palestinians have demanded an end to the eight-year Israeli blockade of Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners, but Israel has resisted those demands.

Al Jazeera toured the north, central, and southern areas of the Gaza Strip to hear what people are saying about the offensive.

Jamal Salman, 56, farmer

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

We were forced to leave our homes and seek shelter in an UNRWA school, as protection. But sadly, bullets of hatred chased us even into the schools where we thought we would be safe.It is only today we have been able to receive condolences. Our hearts are burned. We lost our loved ones which can’t be estimated, at any price.

A month later, we have survived to tell the story of how our family members were slaughtered by Israeli tank shells. Civilians are looking for a life that is free of this harm. 


Abu Osama Nofal, 51, teacher

 [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

Three minutes before the start of the 72-hour ceasefire, and rockets are still being fired on Israel. If it was about making us lose our children, I can assure Israel that all Gaza women are birth-giving by nature.

A month later, I stand on the ruins of these demolished homes and say, we won this war. What has Israel achieved? They killed children, women, and elders, but the resistance fighters remained untouched.

You kill one, we will bring 10. I stand now and say, Israel won the war over stones which it has destroyed, but the Palestinian resistance has beat all of Israel. 


Abdullah El Hageen, 54, unemployed

 [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

I never blame Hamas or our Palestinian resistance factions. The destruction we live in is caused by Israel on this ground and Arab silence on the other end.I am homeless today because my home was bombed. A war that struck civilians for a whole month can happen only because of the silence of Arab leaders.

It’s a choice we have to make – either we die, or we live a dignified life. 


Eid Sabaat, 60, engineer

 [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

As long as the resistance exists, this is, itself, a victory, and, Inshallah [God willing], in the coming period, the resistance will make victory tangible. A month later, I would like to tell Israel, which made the decision to start this war: As for this destruction, we will fix it.

As for this destruction, it’s not necessarily us who will rebuild, but our sons will.

Israel has an agenda, but there is no justification for targeting a civilian population.


Umm Yousef Shabaat, 50, housewife

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

They want to end the last Middle East issue. But I can assure them, that we will remain resilient, and one martyr will bring forward 1,000 more, as the Palestinian people will not quit. I blame the Arab states for not standing by us. This war should not have happened. I feel all Arabs are conspiring against us, because they want to get rid of us, the Palestinian people.

I have lived here for 14 years, and I know God will compensate us for such damage. 


Yousef Rashwan, 28, baker

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

He’s [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] in agreement with Israel to maim people, so that he can politically cleanse the Islamist party in Gaza. Israel failed in this war. After all, killing civilians is not the way to go. Abu Mazen is a traitor who left us alone. [Egyptian president] El-Sisi has also been part of this war in order to bring Abu Mazen back to Gaza.

Thanks to God, Hamas achieved so much by its steadfastness. People were rushing here to buy bread during the war and we fear no war, like this one from the air, by cowards.


Ismail Radwan, 45, Palestinian Authority civil servant 

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

This is a war that will not end – this is just a pause for a time but, whether we like it or not, we should forget about the scenes of fleeing like during the al-Nakba [the forced expulsion of about 750,000 Palestinians after Israel’s creation in 1948]. One month later, tens of thousands of homes have been damaged. We lost so much in this war after, no doubt, tens of tonnes of Israeli explosives were dropped on Gaza.

Resistance won the war, but so did the resilience of the people of Gaza. Nowhere to go now, we have Israel ahead of us, and the beach behind us. We must face the challenges, because this is our land. 


Mohammed Kullab, 56, construction worker

 [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

I shall hope that Egypt will make the conditions of resistance succeed. Arabs were watching us. I am appalled by the Arab silence. Why are they just watching Gaza being slaughtered? Where is the Arabism? Where is the Arabism? No Arabism.

I am confident in the resistance.


Osama Ejelah, 9, student

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

Even our apartment has been bombed. The aim is to make us displaced in UN schools and then be a target for tank shells. As you see we had our three shops completely destroyed, but I know fully in my heart that God will compensate us.

Till the last day of the war, we remained in our apartment, but when the apartment next door sustained damages, we ran to seek shelter at my grandpa’s place in Shujayea, and there it was bombed again.

We ended up going to relatives in the west. There is nowhere safe. Even al-Shifa hospital has been targeted.


Abu Alaa Al Mazari, 58, farmer

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

Nobody won the war, not any of the sides. I only blame one side: the Arab states for their silence which gave the green light to Israel to kill indiscriminately.

All Arabs don’t like us Palestinians, because we are, after all, fighting the filthiest occupation, sticking to our land and maintaining Arab courage.


Umm Salam Abuelbayed, 35, homemaker

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

And I say to the resistance: Go ahead, we are behind you. I say this despite losing my home and some family members being injured. I say this despite my pain and deep wounds. If I were to describe this last month: It was a war of terror.

This war made me believe only in the resistance, and the resistance will bring an end to this occupation. It is the resistance which defends us and our souls – the world is watching us, but they are doing nothing for us. 


Source : Al Jazeera

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