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Hoping To Survive In Gaza

“I don’t know what else to say. I think we are going to die. It makes me sad that I cannot protect the child I made, I can’t protect him from these missiles. I just can’t. I don’t have the superpower to end this madness.”

As Operation Protective Edge continues air strikes in Gaza, and the death toll of Palestinians continues to climb (at the time of writing, the Israeli death toll from Hamas’ rockets remains at 0), any attempt to discuss or debate the Israel-Palestine conflict feels doomed at the outset.

At the very least I can pass on this story, shared with me via a BPFer who asked, “What can BPF do about this?”

I wish I had a better answer.

—Katie Loncke
TWM Editor

July 10, 2014

Nowhere to Run

Article and photos by Mohammed Omer in Gaza

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July 9, 2014: I am writing this as ambulance and rescue crews continue to search for bodies. Among the ones they have uncovered so far are those of 4-year-old Mohammed Nawasra, whose body was found underneath the ruins of his home in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, his 5-year-old brother, Nidal, and their 29-year-old mother, Sumoud Nawasra. Miriam Nawasra, 83, and Khalaf Nawasra, 29, were found alive, but critically injured. The Nawasra house in Maghazi refugee camp was targeted by an Israeli F-16 missile. No one knows why. Their home was bombed at 5:30 a.m., as the family slept.

Most of the stretchers rescue workers carried into Gaza’s hospitals were filled with arms, legs and scattered pieces of human torso and flesh, torn into pieces by Israeli missiles.

Gaza is currently enduring one of Israel’s heaviest bombings. In the last hour, during and after Iftar, the meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast, 80 air strikes were launched on Gaza, according to Israeli sources. These strikes targeted homes, streets, schools, mosques, governmental buildings, greenhouses and agricultural fields.

The number of people killed grows relentlessly. According to Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad Al Bizm, as of today 192 of the injured are children and women, and, in addition to the Nawasra family home, 63 others have been bombed. The list of casualties changes by the minute. [The BBC reported July 10 that as of 10:35 a.m EDT, 80 Gazans have been killed and 540 injured.] The Interior Ministry stated that Israel has launched 780 Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Every few minutes throughout the Gaza Strip one hears the resulting explosions.

As I write this, the Israeli Military has suggested a ground operation may be imminent. Indeed, troops and weapons have been assembling on the border. Israel’s navy has joined the battle as well, and is shelling Gaza from the sea. At this very moment I can hear missiles fired from Israeli warships hitting the homes and fishing boats of Palestinian fishermen.

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In Gaza we all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—it comes with the territory, our territory, that Israel attacks so violently. I don’t want my son to have PTSD. He doesn’t deserve that; he is a child, our gift.

Now, however, F-16s pound Gaza as drones buzz overhead and Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” continues. There is no moment of relief or rest for anyone trapped in Gaza, as Israeli bombs target yet another neighborhood—God help its terrified residents.

As I write this, news arrives of a group of teenagers killed while watching the World Cup match between the Netherlands and Argentina: 6 boys dead and more than 10 injured by a missile which struck the café on the beach in Khan Younis where, like soccer fans around the world, they were watching the game.

Now a haze of smoke arises from nearby buildings struck by Israeli missiles. One thing I do know for sure is that American-made F-16s are sucking the air—and life—out of the lungs of my family and neighbors in Gaza. No sirens, no shelters, no bunkers, no womb to hide in. Only the dead are safe and at rest.

I don’t know what else to say. I think we are going to die. It makes me sad that I cannot protect the child I made, I can’t protect him from these missiles. I just can’t. I don’t have the superpower to end this madness.

Washington Report

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Comments (2)

  • Marianna Tubman

    I think we need to talk about racism, and how labeling an entire population (Palestinians/Arabs) as vermin, snakes, or hopelessly violent can lead to justifying the worst atrocities – in fact the worse the atrocities, the more psychological need to diminish those affected. I think we need to talk about “selfing” in the sense of a group identity rather than an individual one. I wish we could get news anchors and interviewers to ask questions of the “experts” they interview, such as, “Why are you so afraid when you have bomb shelters, Iron Dome, nuclear armed subs, etc? Why can’t you initiate a cease fire even if you don’t think that you “Started” this latest fight? Do you realize how petty you sound when you complain about having to miss a restaurant date because you had to duck into a bomb shelter, while your country is bombing people who have no place to go?”

  • Sally Bowden-Schaible

    Katie and Marianna–

    I’ve just now discovered this 2014 posting on BPF as I search the web for contact information related to Buddhists and Buddhist organizations that have taken some kind of action regarding the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people. I so agree with your comment, Marianna–we need to talk about racism as related to the policies towards and treatment of the Palestinian people in Israel-Palestine. While Buddhists have increasingly become involved in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement here in the US—BPF, for example, has made a public statement of endorsement and alliance—why aren’t we also talking about racism in Israel where billions of US taxpayer dollars are sent annually to support Israel?

    Informed by my understanding of early Buddhist teachings, I’ve been working on behalf of the Palestinian people and their human rights for many years and, sadly, I have found the Buddhist community quite silent and largely uninterested in becoming involved or even learning about what is happening in the region. My attempts to engage Buddhists, including Buddhist leaders, in participating with growing numbers of Christian, Jewish and Muslim institutions/organizations that support human rights and a just peace for all people of the region has, with a few exceptions, been unsuccessful. But, as we know, change happens—and oftentimes it happens slowly. A new generation of activists is now leading the way—perhaps the new generation of Buddhists will be more willing to join them. So, let’s, as a Buddhist community, join with others in offering what we can to bring about change in Israel-Palestine.

    Here’s a brief statement I wrote awhile back about Buddhist teachings as related to I-P:

    While cultivating a compassionate heart and the capacity for deep listening is important in addressing the conflict in Israel-Palestine, I believe that direct actions (such as in BDS–boycott, divestment and sanction–interventions) are also needed to provide clear and felt consequences in response to the years of unrelenting perpetuation of violence and oppression by the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people. We need to acknowledge and not minimize the huge power differential between Israel and Palestine. The Buddha provides helpful guidance to living a wise and compassionate life that can lead to the end of suffering through the framework of the Ennobling Eightfold path. An often under-emphasized part of the path is “sila”, the moral/ethical aggregate, which provides specific guidance for wholesome (skillful, non-harmful) speech, action and livelihood. When integrated with the development of wise understanding and the cultivation of mindfulness and compassion, the ending of suffering is more possible. The path of the Buddha is an integrated path– all parts interweaving and affecting the other parts. Meditation practices, wise understanding and moral/ethical living cannot be separated from each other. Through the lens I look, to wait until hearts and minds are open enough to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation and the fruits of the occupation is a passive collusion that only perpetuates suffering—for Palestinians, for Israelis, for us all. Sometimes we have to speak up, stand up, and say “no” to what is harmful. As stated by Desmond Tutu, “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master, I want the full menu of rights.”

    Sally Bowden-Schaible
    Buddhists for Non-Violence in Israel-Palestine
    Member of Jewish Voice for Peace
    Member of US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
    Former Interfaith Peace Builder Delegate (2012)

© 2017 Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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