Human spirit perseveres even in the face of tremendous adversary. Inside the besieged coastal enclave of Gaza people have to struggle for the very basic daily activities that are generally taken for granted in most other parts of the world. “Within Gaza” series- in 5 episodes- peaks through the walls of occupation and siege to try to reveal how the Gazans go about their lives. Each episodes deals with one harshness that afflicts the residents and portrays their ingenuity in coping with Israeli occupation and intermittent onslaught. Episodes’ titles: Ambulances and Hospitals; Journalists and the Frontlines; Life in Gaza; Mass Execution; Workshops and Factories.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: The densely populated Al Daraj neighborhood lies in the heart of Gaza city, resident of that neighborhood are still keeping some local newspaper that had the front page news of a an adverse night of July 23, 2002, back then the U.S.A made F16 war jets of the Israel occupation army turned the calm of the neighborhood into horror and fear.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Fadi Al Louh, Eyewitness, Al Darj Neighborhood Massacre: “It was a quiet peaceful and calm night despite the extreme heat, I am not sure we heard or not, personally, I heard nothing, I rather felt a pressure inside me or something pressing me inside out, I could feel nothing, it was like something carried me a meter high from the ground for while then dropped me on the ground, The power was cut then I felt the horrors of the day of resurrection.”
Narration: F16 war ject dropped a One-Ton bomb on the neighborhood to assassinate Salah Shehada the leader of military wing of Islamic Resistance movement resulting in 17 fatalities among which 11 children and 3 women while 176 people were injured and tens of houses were damaged.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Issam Yonis, Al Mizan Center for Human Rights: “The Al Daraj neighborhood crime is an example to be studied of a war crime against civilians not against sheikh salah Shehada himself, they are willing to kill, they made a decision by different political and security levels to target a family amid civilians while they were fully aware of the dire consequences of this.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Fadi Al Louh, Eyewitness, Al Darj Neighborhood Massacre: “I expected that something happened to us, we moved from one area to another, our house, street and neighborhood didn’t look like they used to be anymore , there were rubble, destruction and people crying for help while people from other areas rushing to help them, I heard stories from people saying a plane fell behind Al Ashi carpentry right next to our house, Matar family sustained the greatest loss where they lost 7 family members.”
Narration: A decade after the massacre, Matar family members, who lost a lot, abstain from talking about their catastrophe
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Fadi Al Louh, Eyewitness, Al Darj Neighborhood Massacre: “The family was overwhelmed due to that, if you say anything about what happened they would recall the sadness, I will tell you about Ra’id who is the elder and who lost 3 kids two boys and one girl as well as his wife, his shock was deep, and till now he has nervous collapse every time we bring up the subject.”
Narration: Ahmed Matar was twelve years old broke the silence to tell what about the crime that happened to his family that’s a stain on the forehead of humanity.
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ahmed Matar, Eyewitness, Al Darj Neighborhood Massacre: “My sister and sister in law with her three kid died, also my 2 months old niece, after three weeks my grandmother died, the bodies of my nephews were found two days after the incident, they found the bed where my nephew slept turned upside down with loads of rubble on it, a committee came from hospital and checked the matter taking them all to hospital then right away to graveyards.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Issam Yonis, Al Mizan Center for Human Rights: “It’s a typical war crime and those who committed it, not only at the security or military level but also at the political level, must be brought to justice, those who gave them the political endorsement and made the decision for such action are still free, we didn’t see them standing in trial, whenever there is any breakthrough in a given country to file a complaint and prosecute one of those the state changes the law of the country to protect the Israeli criminal.”
Narration: The Israeli occupation, apparently, relied on the fact that none in the world is going to hold them accountable for their vicious crimes, that made them further torture and kill Palestinians, ever since the eruption of Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000, it is not likely for Palestinians that a day would pass without being massacred. In May 5th, 2003, the Israeli occupation invaded the area of Al Zaytoon neighborhood killing 17 people, injuring dozens more, and destroying many houses. The outstanding event was burying 3 residents alive.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Saeed Malaka, Ehab Malaka’s Father, Al Zayton Neighborhood: “My son Ehab and his colleagues Amir and Walid Azzam were injured during the first night, the ambulance crew tried to rescue them but they couldn’t because the the snipers were on the roofs in the area, they tried to throw ropes to them and tried to turn around, my son Ehab asked for water then Dola family may Allah reward them threw 3 bottles to him but none of them reached, between 7 – 8 o’clock in the morning the Israeli bulldozer buried them alive.”
Narration: Nine years after Ehab’s death and the birth of Ehab junior, baby Ehab doesn’t know his father but from photos but he knows who killed him.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ehab Saeed Malak, Al Zayton Neighborhood: “My name is Ehab Saeed Malak, I am 8 years old, my father was shot dead by the Jews, I was born four months after”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Ehab Malaka, Ehab Malaka’s mother: “She was 5 months pregnant when he died, she gave birth, we looked after the child and raised him up, he went to kindergarten for two years then to school, he is smart and he is already joining the third grade.”
Narration: The baby who was still a fetus was deprived from this father but was not deprived from the type of life children of Rafah experience along the borderline with Egypt. Rafah city and its suburbs are a living testimony of tens of massacres that targeted the city specially Tal Al Sultan massacre during the Israeli incursion at the eve of May 12, 2004.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Tariq Jouda, Eyewitness, Tal Al Sultan Neighborhood Massacre: “I live in Tal Al Sultan, I was in the yard when I started receiving calls with news about Tal Al Sultan, people were saying that the area was closed by Israeli occupation army, people were saying they’re leaving Tal Al Sultan, then they were saying that Israeli occupation army is watching people closely, anyone who was going to the roof was shot. For example a girl was trying to feed the pigeons then was shot. Our neighbor who was a well known sport person was shot by a sniper when he was looking from the window.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Ibrahim Al Qon, Mother of Martyr Ibrahim Al Qon: “They could see he was a non-combatant, he was sitting at home and not doing anything, he wanted to get ready for midday prayer, I asked him to hide with us under the stairs, his brother came down telling us he was injured.”
Narration: One of harshest moment Om Ibrahim lived was the sight of her son laid dead on the ground while she couldn’t do anything but to cry.
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Ibrahim Al Qon, Mother of Martyr Ibrahim Al Qon: “put yourself on my shoes how would we laid him crying till before sunset when the ambulance came from Gaza, they were told someone was shot dead and that his parents are about to lose their minds, the ambulance was not allowed by Israeli occupation army, then Zakaria came in without neighbor and I carried him on my chest laying him at Zakaria’s back they took them while we were bidding him forgiveness.”
Narration: Ibrahim’s body was buried while his family stayed alive and people of the neighborhood remained hungry, wounded, waiting for a helping hand to be extended to them, the children of rafah answered their call and took to the street to break their siege.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Shahid Al Sultan, Survivor, Tal Al Sultan Neighborhood Massacre: “When the demonstration proceeded from Zorob roundabout towards Tal Al Sultan to break the siege on them the tanks targeted the demonstration at Zorob roundabout, they first hit the building destroying the doors as you could see, those are the signs of the shrapnels that scattered all over people as well as the doors’ shrapnels, the second and third shells targeted the very same place in the building with 3 – 4 seconds interval between each.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Tariq Jouda, Eyewitness, Tal Al Sultan Neighborhood Massacre: “Missiles were coming from tanks and planes hitting the walls and doors to make shrapnels and hit people. People closed all small alleys and streets, people were falling on the ground due to injuries and people were carrying other blooding people. The area became so horrible, people didn’t know where to take other injured people, the Israeli occupation army’s checkpoint was there in front of you and the demonstrators were blocking all the way back to Rafah.”
Narration: The children marsh couldn’t make it to Tal al Sultan where the Israeli tanks and war jets intercepted their attempt targeting them with killing 9 organizers and leaving 45 others wounded to push the death toll of Tal Al Sultan massacre to 60 children most of which children. This huge number of martyrs outpaced the capacity of Rafah hospital’s morgue, then dead bodies needed to be kept till appropriate burial.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Tariq Jouda, Eyewitness, Tal Al Sultan Neighborhood Massacre: “We thought we need to find a vegetable refrigerator, we started to put martyrs there, the death toll reached approximately 65 people, after the siege was lifted people started coming to identify the bodies of their relatives. All martyrs were brought to the playground with their families who came from Tal Al Soltan, then the biggest funeral ever started with the bodies of 65 martyrs taken to burial as a result of the siege and the demonstration.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Issam Yonis, Al Mizan Center for Human Rights: “There is an enormous number of crimes in Rafah, Jabalia, Izbit Abd Rabbo, Beit Hanoun, Al Saafeen, and Ghlya family on the beach, as long as there is occupation there will be crimes, such a fascist criminal occupation as we see will continue those crimes with no discrimination between kids, women, and men.”
Narration: The continuity of massacres against Palestinian people is associated with the Israeli occupation that gas been practicing a daily policy of ethnic cleansing in Palestine since 60 years till now. Hajjaj Family from Al Shajaia used to meet every evening on daily basis to have whatsoever available food together.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Abu Farid Hajaj, Survivor, Al Shajaia Neighborhood Massacre: “We were sitting here around this area doing some barbeque on Saturday July 8, 2006 around sunset time, then the unmanned drone targeted us with 3 missiles”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim Hajaj, Survivor, Al Shajaia Neighborhood Massacre: “I saw my mother flying and falling down with her chair, while Rawan who was sitting on her lap was thrown 10 meters away by the explosion, I saw Mohammed jumping off the chair on the sand. Many shrapnels hit his back and he died right away. I sneaked through an opening to the door and kept walking and falling till the ambulance came and they picked me.”
Narration: 21 years old Mohammed didn’t survive the shrapnel that penetrated his body as well as his 50 years old mother whose bodies was cut into small pieces that are hardly recognized 6 years old Raw, who did no harm to anyone, was killed too, other family people who didn’t die were injured and are still suffering the sequence of the crime after a six years
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Rani Hajaj, Survivor, Al Shajaia Neighborhood Massacre: “My uncle carried me to the ambulance then I was taken to Al Shifa hospital undergoing several surgeries, I was injured in the arm and leg, I suffered a fracture and had internal fixation in my arms, I underwent several plastic surgeries for my arm. I had fractures in the joint bones and was advised that nothing can be done until I am older than 18 this mean till the joint get stiff. I was 14 years old at the time of the incident, and I’m 19 years old now and ever since the incident I have my body full of shrapnels that I am suffering from, the most dangerous thing is the shrapnel in my head that I wanted to take out but doctors advised that this would pose a risk so it is still there while I am suffering from chronic headache.”
Narration: Due to the severity of the injury, Ibrahim couldn’t help it falling on the ground, he is still keeping the missile shrapnel that suppressed his family and left him with uncured wounds till now
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ibrahim Hajaj, Survivor, Al Shajaia Neighborhood Massacre: “This plate was kept here with the parts of missiles that fell on our house killing my brother, sister, and mother and left me with a knee injury, I underwent a surgery, they fixed the knee internal fixation and told me it will be removed in a year. A year after, I removed it, but a while ago it hurt me again.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Issam Yonis, Al Mizan Center for Human Rights: “Again, the acts of the occupation are evident, they are criminals, a state that’s above the law so it’s not odd to be committing those crimes, the rather odd thing is the silence and indulgence of the international community towards the justifications presented in this regard, as justifications are no longer acceptable when it comes to killing women and children, it’s not acceptable morally, legally, or politically.”
Narration: The Israeli occupation army never stopped searching for families to massacre, four month after Al Shajaia massacre Beit Hanon area was targeted at dawn time dated November 8, 2006, the artillery shells poured on Al Athamna family household, the family woke up on a blood fall, some of them lost their life while other lived to recall their testimonies about the unforgettable memories.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Fadi Al Athamna, Survivor, Al Athamina Massacre: “The Israeli occupation army targeted us with 14 tank shells, the first tank shell was like an announcement of their will to kill us, due to the shell all the room glass fill on me, I could barely throw the sheet then we all were in the street, people gathered to see what happened then the second shell hit injuring and killing people, I was injured right here by the second shell, the third shell finished everybody, after then all shells were random, either to kill any person who was still alive, or to follow those who were fleeing the scene.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Majdi Al Athamna: “This is the massacre scene, all bodies were laid here, thanks the lord the blood here was to the knees, we had to bury the area with sand while the blood was flowing outside to nearby places and all over the street, my son Arafat was targeted in this spot, they carried his head and arms without legs or body or stomach or anything, all of it became small scattered pieces besides the bodies of his brothers, uncles, and cousins who were all cut into pieces too.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
Narration: The death toll among Al Athamna family reached 20 martyrs most of which women and children, Um Magdi Al Athamna lost 6 family members the last of which was her son Magdi who died of a fatal disease he suffered from the loss of his son and brothers in that massacre.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Majdi Al Athamna: “I spent my life in more tragic events than the massacre, the last victim was my elder son who lost his son Sa’ed, Magdi told me that he is going to Saudi Arabia as soon as he can because he sensed his time is drawing closer, he wanted to perform Hajj and visit Mecca, he died 15 – 20 days after he went to Saudi Arabia, can things get any more tragic? He had cardiac problem thanks the lord.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Fadi Al Athamna, Survivor, Al Athamina Massacre: “The family at large consists of 64 members, 20 of them were killed while 30 others were injured, so you can say that 90% of the family was devastated.”
Narration: Al Athamna family’s martyrs were buried in a graveyard near the buffer zone with the Israeli occupation North Gaza, the graveyard was targeted again during the Gaza war 2008 – 2009.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Majdi Al Athamna: “How are you mother, May Allah grant you mercy, May Allah grant you mercy, May Allah grant you the paradise, may Allah make it easier for you, even after they died they were still targeted by the missiles of the Israeli occupation look how broken the graveyards are, how the missiles hit them, what can we do, thanks the lord, thanks the lord, you can’t differentiate between people’s graves, they are all mixed together now, they were broken and mixed after we build them, it’s like they’re saying we are following you even when you are dead.”
Narration: Al Athamna families martyrs were killed twice, the first time in 2006 and secondly during the Gaza 23-day war where a massacre was committed every day.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Zeyad Zeyada, Survivor,Zeyada Massacre: “The night of January, 11, 2009 was particularly fierce, the shelling was heavy, destruction and assassinations were horrible. We heard a cry for help from a wounded person asking Zeyada family to call ambulance, we tried to call but could never get through because all landlines and mobile communications were down, then I tried to go and help that wounded person.”
Narration: Zeyad Zeyada answered the call of help and sneaked to the place where the cries for help came from despite the heavy shelling that night
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Zeyad Zeyada, Survivor,Zeyada Massacre: “I kept walking towards the voice crying for help till I reached the place to find a very shocking and horrifying surprise, the man crying for help was my brother in law with my nephew both on the ground, both of them were barely alive but my brother in law was talking to me and saying I testify that there is no God to be worshipped but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger, while my nephew had a deep injury in the head and chest, almost fatal injury.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Jamil Zeyada, Survivor,Zeyada Massacre: “We tried to call the ambulance for help but our cries were never answered, the war was fierce in the area. About 3 minutes later, we were surprised by an Apache missile targeting the wounded people and shattering their bodies into pieces.”
Narration: The number of Zeyada family members killed reached 5 one of which was a fetus.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Jamil Zeyada, Survivor,Zeyada Massacre: “My mother was 80 years old, my sister was pregnant and expecting a birth within a week, my brother in law and nephew were civilians who were not involved in anything. My mother may Allah have mercy on her, was here, my sister, Um Sohaib, was sitting next to her, and next to them was Suhaib, while Abu Suhaib was dead and thrown in this area, I was injured and was here exactly, I was injured in the head and the leg and I had also some shrapnels in the abdomen and back, the martyrs and I stayed in the street from 1 AM till 5 AM when the ambulances arrived.”