The old man sat in
the light of a kerosene lamp and looked bleakly ahead. His wife sat in the
opposite corner, crying loudly �They soiled our sheets, haram, haram, they
broke our bed, fired guns in our bed and,� the old man said, �they took all our
money. The day after they left, we found a 100 shekel note in the garden, that�s
|Sa'ad Al Atar [Photo by Rod Cox]|
He was talking
about the Israeli occupation of his house to a foreign photographer who had
come to film the destruction in North of the Gaza Strip.
Sa�ad Al Atar lived
in a line of houses along a high ridge overlooking Gaza city in Atatra
district. It was the part of Gaza nearest the Israeli border, and it also
commanded long views of Gaza city, so it was bombed repeatedly in the first few
days, and most of the houses were destroyed. Then the Apaches fired rockets at
what was left and machine gunned anything that moved.
Mr Al Atar stayed
home with his family, even when machine gun fire came through the window and
sprayed the wall behind them. The foreign Journalist put his fingers in the big
holes in the plaster, but to him they were just dents in the wall; to Mr Al
Atar they represented fear and salvation at the same time. But there was an
even closer miss in the next dark room, where there were no lights. A row of
smaller bullet holes at a lower level.
�We were eating our
meal on the floor when these came. If we were sitting on a chair they would
have gone through our heads. I am lucky that I cannot afford to put chairs in
both my rooms,� said Mr Al Atar.
What happened next?
�The Israelis came and pointed their guns at us. They told us to get into the
back room, where the shots had been fired, and to stay there, and they went on
to the roof. They told us that if we moved, they would shoot us. They went
upstairs, they stole my money, soiled the beds, left condoms everywhere. They
fired holes in the bed -- for what? While people were dying they were making
love with each other in our bed, and then they destroyed it. All our money was
in the mattress, everything for the whole family, and they took it all. then
after three days, they left. Just left�
|Mrs. Al Atar [Photo by Rod Cox]|
His family of seven
children and his wife listened in the gloomy light. �There is no glass in the
windows, and we cannot afford even to buy plastic sheets,� said Mrs Al Atar. �The
UN gave us some blankets, but we have no money to repair anything and no one
helps us. No one. And it is cold, even our clothes they cut up and soiled --
look, look at these cuts, why, why they do this, why?�
They drank their tea
in silence, the foreign photographer left, and the light went out.
|Sa'ad Al Atar: �The Israelis have left us nothing, destroying our houses, stole our money and killed our young kids.� [Photo by Rod Cox]|
Ayman Talal Quader is
a Palestinian born and raised in Gaza. He is 22 years old an has a bachelor�s
degree in English and Education.