Saturday evening, the 29th of December, 2012 at 6:00p.m.
In the dining hall of Kibbutz Zikim
By Soul, Gaza
Good evening everybody... Erev Tov!
It’s a great pleasure for me to be with you virtually today and participate in this important event
where we welcome the New Year 2013. I truly would be with you in person today if I could.
Please allow me to share with you my story during the latest round of violence.
I have lived my whole life in Gaza, and throughout my life I have witnessed attacks and destruction
of people’s homes, people being killed and violations of human rights.
The recent Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip last month, code-named operation “Pillar of
Cloud or Pillar of Defense” by Israeli officials, were very close to my house. The operation claimed
the lives of over 170 Palestinians in 8 days, most of them are civilians, including over 40 children.
The Israeli attacks on Gaza were escalating. The Israeli military navy was shelling from the sea,
the F-16 warplanes, Apache helicopters and drones from the sky, and the tanks from the ground ...
where to hide?!
Since the start of the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza, Israeli warplanes have been bombing and
shelling several locations in the area near our house, very near our house. With each
bombardment, we felt our house shake like an earthquake and windows break and shatter
everywhere, not to mention our utter fear and horror. I had a small injury in the back of my head
when one of our windows broke. It’s nothing compared with what other civilians experienced in
Nowhere was safe in Gaza, and there was nowhere to hide from the bombings because the Israeli
warplanes were indiscriminately targeting all areas. Every day in Gaza was more painful and
heartbreaking than the past. Everyone here was terrorized and traumatized from the never-ending
bombardments. What was happening in Gaza was catastrophic beyond words and it was very hard
to make sense of the current situation or make future predictions.
What I witnessed and experienced during the latest military assault on Gaza is indescribable!”
During the 8 day attack on Gaza, I was going out with reporters and journalists. We went to Shifa
Hospital in Gaza city, and on our way, I witnessed scenes of destruction and many damaged
buildings everywhere. Most buildings are totally damaged and cannot be repaired. I also witnessed
blood in the street, people crowding and running everywhere, ambulances and press people, total
chaos. I was totally shocked.
I also saw the Palestinian civil defense forces with bulldozers trying to pull out dead bodies from
under the rubble, mostly bodies of children.
I also went to the morgue of the hospital and witnessed burned bodies and body parts of children,
women and elderly. Most victims were civilians. I will never get this scene out of my mind.
Also at the hospital, I witnessed a lot of women and children being carried and wheeled into the
emergency room. Many of the wounded were burned and missing limbs and will be damaged for
life, and a lot of the dead were in pieces. I also saw women and men, parents, slapping their faces
in grief, screaming and wailing. Some of them collapsed to the floor because they learned their
children were dead. Most of the killed were children and there wasn't enough space for the
wounded. Terrifying and heartbreaking scenes!
Thank God, no one from my family or relatives got killed or injured, but my little nephews and
nieces are suffering from major trauma. During the assault they were screaming a lot and it had
been very difficult for the family to calm them down.
It’s been several weeks since the IDF stopped bombing and the tanks left Gaza. My young nieces
and nephews are still scared to be by themselves at night. There was a thunder storm recently,
and they hid thinking it was another bombing raid. My nephews and nieces now suffer from post-
traumatic stress disorder. Some of them became isolated. Others became violent. The children are
traumatized and will be damaged for life.
What happened in Gaza in a densely populated urban area was a “planned humanitarian disaster”,
and a real crime against humanity. Despite this extremely difficult situation, we are still holding on,
waiting for the siege on Gaza to end and hoping with it the 45 years of occupation will also leave
our lives once and for all.
What ended the latest round of violence was a truce mediated by Egypt, and signed by Israel and
military factions in Gaza. The US came running to be part of a cease fire but they never came
running to end the occupation. They also do not hesitate to arm Israel to the teeth.
I am not optimistic about the cease-fire agreement, because it seems shaky and I don’t think it will
hold for long. We should keep in mind that a cease-fire is not a peace process.
Israel threatened to resume attacks on Gaza if truce fails. And since the ceasefire was effectual on
November 21st , 2012, Israel has violated Palestinian airspace and waters, harassed, arrested, shot
and killed Gazans. Israel systematically and constituently breaks these ceasefires, and continues
to threaten Palestinians, internationals and journalists.
The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza said they will not accept more
violations of the truce. They warned in a statement that Israeli ongoing and flagrant violations of the
truce will undermine the deal and force factions to respond in a suitable manner.
This madness of both sides has to stop. Actually we, as a community, fear the period between
Christmas and New Years because Israel has started to use this period to instigate more violence,
as the rest of the world is celebrating their holiday season.
In my opinion, there is no military solution for this conflict, not on the Palestinian side, not on the
Israeli side. It’s not about who can win militarily. I refuse to commit another generation of
Palestinians and Israelis to thinking either side can win by the use of force. Israel has proved it
can't win, and Palestinians have proved we can't lose, so where do we go from here? From killing
1400 Gazans in 2008 to over 170 in 2012, to how many next year or the year after ... where will it
stop? This is insane!
We must consciously choose a point of reference. For me, it is the international law. I can't accept
the law of the jungle because that's never ending, and in such a game, there are no roles.
Palestinians and Israelis must all speak out for the madness to stop, the IDF ongoing attacks and
the Palestinian missiles.
We are not Palestinians or Israelis today, we are human beings and we must act as such and
demand the coming rounds of violence to stop.
Palestinian residents in Gaza desire to exercise their right to enjoy a normal life like the rest of
humanity, and I am sure the same applies for Israeli residents on the other side of the border.
My message today is clear. Palestinian and Israeli leaders must return to the negotiating table and
come to some agreement about how to settle their differences and work things out. I believe it is
important for the two parties to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to reopen their dialogue without
delay. The Israelis and Palestinians deserve a chance to live in peace. The leaders of both sides
must start talking again. I stress that a lasting peace had to be found through dialogue, on the
basis of the two-state principle.
Palestinian and Israeli children and residents on both sides of the border deserve peace and
We call on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to show courage and determination to seek an
agreement for a two-state solution that can open up a brighter future for Palestinian and Israeli
We, Palestinian and Israeli civilians on both sides of the border are the victims. We deserve the
right to live normal lives. We must speak out and call upon our leaders to end the violence once
and for all, find the ways to sit down and talk, end the attacks and the siege on Gaza, and stop
playing with our lives.
Let us hope that our leaders would listen to our call … and let us pray that sanity, peace and justice
prevail in Israel-Hamas relations and that children of both sides are not traumatized any longer.
Violence won’t stop until we talk!
THOSE ARE MY THOUGHTS FOR TODAY.
Thanks to all Israelis and Palestinians who stand up for innocent people on both sides.
Let us welcome the New Year 2013 with love for peace and justice for Palestinians and
Israelis on both sides of the border.
Happy New Year to all of you … Shana Tova!
Thank you … Toda!