14 Mar 2008
days during the past fortnight I have been teaching in one or other of the
two medical schools in Gaza. Last Friday, as it was the weekend, I was invited to the homes of two
families I got to know when I was here in 2002.
family had experience of the violence unleashed on Gaza
in the last week of February. At 1030 pm on 27th, three missiles from
Apache helicopters hit the Ministry of Interior building across the road
from the block of flats where they live. After the first missile struck,
the father went into his sonís room, which faces the ministry, and threw
himself onto his son, saving him from being lacerated by window glass when
the next rocket exploded. Not surprisingly, the children are still nervous
after the attack. The five-year-old daughter would not go to the toilet
without one of her parents.
father was glad the Israelis had not committed their gratuitous vandalism
with the more the powerful rockets which are carried by F16 aircraft. As
it was, the top floors of the ministry building were destroyed and a house
facing the building collapsed, killing a baby. No one was in the ministry
at the time. Glass was blown out of the windows in all the flats in my
friendsí block. The building next to the ministry was badly damaged. A
human rights organization had moved out of it a month before, but files of
papers still there were destroyed. Presumably the information about the
atrocities which they document are backed up and will be available when
Israeli leaders are brought to trial at the
for their daily crimes against Palestinian civilians.
2002 I stayed in the offices of an organization which runs urban and rural
clinics. Their building was just behind the interior ministry and damage
caused by the rockets has forced them move. An ambulance standing outside
the building was wrecked.
other friends collected me by car. I was surprised because petrol has
almost run out in Gaza. Their car has been converted to run on bottled gas until stocks of this
run out, or until
ís crippling nine-month siege, shamefully still supported by Britain, is brought to an end.
was proudly shown the familyís roof garden. There is no land for most
people to cultivate in densely built-up Gaza
or the other towns in the Strip. I recognized
onions, okra, tomatoes and mint. (In Khan Younis I saw a sheep in a pen on
one roof, and pigeons were being reared in a shed up there.) The father
started an organization, which has now been running for four years, called
Life Makers. It helps young people develop life skills. It is a very
positive initiative, encouraging people to consider their aims in life,
and stressing helping others and cooperation. With factionalism very much
a divisive reality in
, it is a strength of the organization that it refuses to have any
Makers helps youngsters face up to the harsh realities of their day
to day life. It is concerned with development. Roof gardens are one
practical application of this. Others are solar panels, and
distilling water, so as to obtain drinking water from Gazaís toxic water supply (more about this in the next letter).
one of the minority of Gazans with a job, the father makes a payment
every month to another father who tried to run a taxi but whose
enterprise failed because of lack of fuel and spare parts.