Hossam Madhoun in Gaza
Number 4, with zeros and without. Part 2
Today I received a message from my sister, who took refuge at an UNRWA shelter-school in Deir El Balah Camp in the middle area of Gaza Strip, 10 km from my place, as distant as the Earth from the Moon. No way to reach her without risking my life. She and her 4 sons, a little boy 8 years old, a teenager 15 years old, 2 youths 22 and 21 years old, and her mother-in-law, 82 years old, have not eaten for 2 days. Her little son is sick with stomach pain, no doctors, no primary health care unit, only the hospital which prioritises its services for the hundreds of severely injured. I called one of my colleagues who lives in Deir El Balah; he went and provided her with whatever he could.
I called my brother who has stayed at home in Gaza. He did not leave, he did not want to leave home despite the danger. He told me that he left home 2 days ago and moved to the nearby school. He received an SMS from the Israeli army asking him to evacuate his home because they were going to bomb it. He ran out with his family, his wife, 3 sons of 7, 16 and 17 years old and 2 daughters of 12 and 14 years old. As they were running out, another building not far from them was bombed. A flying stone from the bombing impact hit his little daughter in the leg and broke it. He carried his daughter, brought the family to the school and continued carrying his daughter to the hospital. They treated the girl; they put plaster of paris all over her leg. He decided to return home. He received the warning message two days ago, but he doesn’t want to stay at the school.
Could not say anything, could not advise him anything, what do I know?
Back to my room, and the image of Block 6 in Jabalia Camp does not leave my head, seeing it at all times, trying to forget about it and continue, but no way.
Again, in the camp, Block 6….
Past the first home and outside the second home, a man urges his family members to hurry up, asking his sons:
‘The taxi will be here at 4, we need to speed up, did you get everything?
‘Here are the bags of clothes. Here are the mattresses. Here is the food left at home. Here’s your bag with all the important documents and ID’s. What else?’
‘Where are the others?
‘What are they doing inside?’ (he asks, frustrated) ‘The taxi will be here in 10 minutes for God’s sake.’
He goes in. Inside the home, his wife is arguing with her daughter-in-law,.
‘I can’t leave these dresses, they were a gift from my mother when I gave birth to my first child’.
‘But there’s no space in the bag’.
‘I don’t care, I’m taking them with me’.
‘And you’ (to her son) ‘Do you really need to take 3 pair of shoes? There’s no space.’
‘These are not shoes, this is my laptop’
‘Shall we take the cooking gas cylinder? They might not have enough’
‘If there’s space in the taxi, we’ll take it’
Sameer and Fatma, the 11 and 12 year olds, arguing over things they want to take; Sameer wants to take his bicycle and Fatma wants to take her school bag and favourite doll.
The father trying to control himself, speaking quietly but sharply:
‘Is this really what we need to do now? Argue over things to take and not take? Didn’t we agree all that this morning? Are we leaving for good? We’re coming back in a few days, so please stop and all come out now. 3 minutes and the taxi will be here.’
They all go out, the father closes the front door, a next door neighbour comes out and sees all the bags and luggage on the street.
‘What’s up Abu Ahmad? Where are you going?
‘We’re leaving for Rafah, to my brother’s home. The whole family is displaced there; we want to be together. It’s safer’
‘Are you sure it’s safer in Rafah? They’re bombing everywhere.’
‘This is what we’ve decided. we’ll all be together, live together or die together, here’s the taxi.’
‘There it is, at the entrance to the street.
Tick tock, tick tock, 4 pm.….. Boooom.
400 people killed and injured .