After the Israeli Assault: Truth and Trauma On the Ground in Gaza
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The attack destroyed several nearby houses, including the house of the Al-Muzannar family where two civilians, a young man and a 75year-old woman, also died. They were: Ameena Matar al-Mauzannar, 75; and Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzannar, 19.
One banner that hangs on a damaged wall reads, “Why were they killed?” Another shows enlarged pictures of the Dalu children’s faces.
Atop the rubble of the building is the burned wreckage of the family minivan, flipped there upside down in the blast.
The Israeli military later claimed it had collapsed the building in hope of assassinating an unspecified visitor to the home, any massive civilian death toll justifiable by the merest hint of a military target. Qassam rockets killing one Israeli a year are terrorism, but deliberate attacks to collapse buildings on whole families are not.
“All Palestinians are targeted now,” a woman who lives across the street told us. Every window in her home had been shattered by the blast. She had been sure it was the end of her life when she heard the explosion. She had covered her face, and then, opening her eyes, seen the engine from the neighbor's car flying past her through her home. She pointed to a spot on the floor where a large rocket fragment had landed in her living room. Then, looking at the ruins of the Dalu building, she shook her head. “These massacres would not happen if the people who fund it were more aware.”
Mr. Dalu's nephew Mahmoud is a pharmacist, 29 years of age, who is still alive because he had recently moved next door from his uncle's now-vanished building to an apartment that he built for himself, his wife and their two year-old daughter who are also alive. With his widowed mother and several neighborhood women, he and his wife had been preparing to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. A garland of tinsel still festoons a partly destroyed wall. The blast destroyed much of his home’s infrastructure, but he was able to shepherd his family members and their guests out of the house to safety. Several were taken to the hospital in shock.
“I don’t know why this happened to us,” Mahmoud says. “I am a pharmacist. In my uncle’s house lived a doctor and a computer engineer. We were just finishing lunch. There were no terrorists here. Only family members here. Now I don’t know what to do, where to go. I feel despair. We are living in misery."
“Any war is inhuman, irreligious, and immoral,” my friend, Dr. T., had told me.
Dr. T. is afraid that Israel is preparing a worse war, one with ground troops deployed, for after its upcoming election. “We are hopeful to live in peace. We don't want to make victims. We love Israelis as we love any human being."
"But we are losing the right to life in terms of movement, trade, education, and water. The Israelis are taking these rights; they are not looking out for the human rights of Palestinians. They only focus on their sense of security. They want Palestine to lose all rights."
Election logic aside, Israel has already violated the ceasefire - at any time the missiles and rockets could start raining down once more. Year round, that is what it means to live in Gaza.
I decided not to bring up the Santa Claus question and instead thanked him for his honest reflections and bade him farewell.