From Gaza, with Love

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Solidarity is the Way...

ILWU Local 10
July 21st 2010

Dear ILWU Local 10 members

I am writing to you from Gaza, to thank you for your union action in refusing to unload an Israeli ship, and to tell you a little bit about our life here. Like everyone in Gaza, I have lived through the siege and military attacks from Israel. That is why your solidarity touches me.

Huda Ghaliya (aged 12 at the time) repeatedly shouted, heartbreakingly, “Daddy, Daddy, ” while searching for the rest of her family after Israeli forces shelled the beach in northern Gaza. It was 9 June 2006, while she was on a picnic with her mother, father, brothers and sisters. The entire family was wiped out, and dozens more were injured. The casualties were brought to Al Awda hospital, where I was working. Some of my colleagues, including seasoned emergency healthworkers, could not bear to go to the child’s room. Huda kept telling me “mum and dad did not pass away, they are in another hospital”. When the TV crew arrived, the cameraman collapsed at the scene. I burst into tears.

What happened to that child, which will follow her for the rest of her life, was to see all her family members disappear on a lovely sunny morning, meant to be a joyful day. It was not the first or the last time that Palestinian children, living under the occupation and the siege of Gaza, lost family members. Many parents lost their children, and many children lost one or two parents, or siblings.

The latest assault against Gaza on December 2008, was frankly an act against humanity, in a preplanned, systematic, destructive way. Israel should be held responsible for war crimes, and the UN report by Judge Goldstone proved that these were crimes against humanity.

What followed recently on board the flotilla was another act of terrorism and yet another proof that Israel does not abide by international laws . Even though this act recalled previous war crimes against the Palestinian population in Gaza, people were shocked and in disbelief that Israel could commit this aggression against internationals in international waters. It showed again that Israel is above the law as long as the people of the world stay silent.

This makes the genuine act of the Oakland dock workers who refused to handle the "Zim Shenzhen" ship so important for us in Gaza. We were so impressed by this act of solidarity, as well as many other acts that have been done continuously to support our struggle to reach our inalienable rights, we who live under the siege and continuous hardships. We feel that the majority of the world is silent. We appreciate this sort of activity, and we feel that there is hope, that we are not alone and forgotten. One day the people who act against all types of injustice will ring the bell, and injustice will come to an end. Alone we cannot reach our goal, but with your solidarity, we will.
This act of solidarity gives us hope, together we defeated South Africa’s apartheid regime and with your support we can defeat the Israeli apartheid and occupation.

At the moment, we are running a supportive, educational, and (for them) entertaining project, for the children of the Zaytoun neighborhood. We named our project LEARNING ON THE RUBBLE. Even 18 months since the attack against Gaza, Israel does not allow essential building materials to enter Gaza. They allow ketchup and fizzy drinks into Gaza, and tell the world that there is no siege!!!! They deny entry of many essential materials, including medications (chemotherapy ) for cancer patients, and spare parts for medical equipment, as well as a suitable amount of dairy products. The list is too long to mention. Unemployment has reached 60%, and 80% of the population is living on international aid.

When I visited the site of LEARNING ON THE RUBBLE, I could see the shadow of trauma on the kids’ faces, as well as the physical scars of their bodies, either directly caused by the Israeli soldiers, or from being trapped under the rubble when the bulldozers demolished their homes. They became homeless in a matter of minutes.

Some of these children were trapped next to the dead body of a family member. I met one woman who lost her husband and son. Tearfully, she told me that her son, aged 13, slowly and agonizingly bled to death in her lap over 12 hours.

The army did not allow health workers to enter the area to evacuate the casualities, and when the International Red Cross workers were first allowed into the area, they were shocked and horrified by the scene, especially those children who were trapped in the rubble, injured, hungry, cold, and terrified .

Israel’s violation of health human rights became a routine act. I witnessed dozens of such incidents during my work, which show how Israel has no respect for human rights, including health human rights, even though the 4th Geneva convention guarantees those rights. In the last assault against Gaza, more than a dozen health workers were killed while on duty.

We continue our life under the siege, which deprives us from freedom of movement outside and into Gaza, despite the partial lifting of the siege, which is not enough. What we need is a complete lifting of the siege.

Gaza’s population suffers many hardships. Electricity is frequently off, making it harder to write to you. Water is not suitable for drinking and is completely unavailable in some areas. This has a great impact on people’s health, as does the inadequate sewage system for such a densely populated area.

On this small piece of land and with the mentality of people who live under siege, we were so impressed and empowered to learn about the courageous act of the Oakland dock workers who refused to load or unload the "Zim Shenzhen". This act is an effective tool against Israel to pressure them to lift the siege and end the occupation.

We simply felt that these workers and your union expressed their membership of the international family, and refused to accept state aggression and injustice inflicted on other nations, even though we live far away on the other side of the globe.

The is the time for all of us shout and say, “enough!” to Israel’s brutal acts against humanity.

With love and solidarity,

Mona Elfarra


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