Thursday, July 31, 2014

'Hello, is this 'Israel' calling ?" My article in Al Jazeera English Website

This article of mine was published in Al Jazeera English website : To read the full article, click on the link :


http://m.aljazeera.com/story/2014729713266939


Some parts of the article :


"What hurts me the most is that Gaza's story is always told in terms of numbers: "50 people died, 100 buildings were destroyed". These people had names, stories, dreams, families, ambitions, futures and most importantly - history. These buildings were people's homes, they were places of safety and security, of hard work and relaxation, of memories and family histories."


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"Hours passed and I was moving from one memory to another. Which item should I take, or in other words, which memory in this house is more important than the other? Which part of ziad, of my soul, should I take?"

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"They say that a person's life passes in front of his eyes when he is about to die. It was different for me. My whole life passed in front of my eyes while I was standing in front of a ringing phone. Is it the call? Is it our turn? "


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"It has been the fate of Palestinians in the past 66 years to evacuate their homes constantly, leaving behind their property, their land, their history. Will Shujayea people ever be able to go back to their homes? Or will they be left with only memories of what they called home?"


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Thursday, July 24, 2014

When the War is Over... A Palestinian Hope


“When the war is over, I want to…” is a new facebook page in Arabic created by Palestinians who refused to lose hope during the difficult situation they are living and the massacres and crimes that are committed in Gaza Strip.

In this page, they express their hopes and what they will do when the war is over. Maybe it is their way of gaining psychological strength or positive energy to be able to go through the whole horrible experience that no one knows when it will be over.

Here are the translations of some of the hopes, dreams and plans that Gaza people have in mind about what to do when the war is over:

-          I want to shout, yell and fly.

-          I want to pray for Allah because we are still alive and pray for the people who martyred .

-          I want to see my friends, I really miss them so much, I want to make sure they are all safe.

-          I want to travel to PARIS !!!

-          I want to go out with my ‘guys’ and spend all night out.

-          I want to sleeeeeeep !!!

-          I want to go to a psychiatrist for help.

-          I want to visit my friends and put silly posts on facebook as we used to do.

-          I want to see what happened to my beautiful Gaza.

-          I want to go to the sea and BREATHE .

-          I want to pray Al Eid prayer in Al Aqsa mosque ( I am being very optimistic , lol)

-          I want to re-consider a lot of relationships in my life. This war showed me who cares and who does not. 

-          I want to cut my hair and shave my beard !!!!

-          I want to start an organization that deals with after-war traumas.

-          I want to go to the martyrs’ graves and read Al Fatiha Sura.

-          I want to help the victims of the war.

-          I want to go to the sea and cry.

-          I want to ululate !!!

-          I want to love Gaza , its people, streets and every detail about it.

-          I want to sit with my beloved ones and laugh all the time.

-          I want to invite my brothers and sisters since we weren’t able to do so in Ramadan.

-          I want to hear the children’s laughter.

-          I want to visit my grandfather, I miss seeing him every week and listen to his stories.

-          I want to donate, to volunteer , to help… I want to do anything to help the victims.

-          I have a long ‘to do ‘ list that I have been postponing, but this war taught me never to postpone anything.
 
 

-          I want to plant flowers everywhere, I want to wipe the tears of the sad ones.

-          I want to eat my grandmother’s cooking.

-          I want to sleep in my bed and make food in my kitchen.

-          I want to see my nephew and play with him until he kicks  me out of the room .

-          I want to dream !!

-          I want to say hello to everyone, even the people that I do not know.

-          I want to visit every mom who lost her child and hug her.

-          I want to write reports and document everything that happened.

-          I want to make a new birth certificate celebrating that I am alive.

-          I want to go shopping J

-          I want to visit the children who lost their parents and spend the Eid with them.

-          I want to go to the university.

-          I want to buy new clothes for my children to celebrate the Eid.

-          I want to change my whole life and start memorizing the holy Qur’an.

-          I want to sit by the window feeling safe.

-          I want to visit the graves of my friends who martyred in during the war and tell them that I miss them.

-          I want to complete building my home and GET MARRIED !!!

-          I want to cry, for every soul that we lost during the war , for every house that was demolished, for every time I slept terrified that it will be my last…

-          I will try to feel happy for the result I got in tawjihi (high school) exams.

-          I will go out with my friend and eat falafel !!

-          I want to live my life !!

-          I want to celebrate my 21st birthday.

-          I want to see the street and walk in it.

-          I want to do my wedding that was cancelled because of the war.

-          I want to say ‘ I love you ‘ to all the people that I love and never hide my feelings again.

And the wishes and dreams of Gazans goes on and on. These hopes show something very important, that Palestinians, teach life, sir !!!
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Al Shajaia Massacre: Over 40 killed, 200 injured and families trapped in their homes under the bombing


“We are trapped in our home, our house was bombed and we’ve been calling the ambulance and the ICRC for the last 12 hours but they refuse to come saying it is dangerous. “ says Mohammad, 16 years old, who lives in Shejaia, Montar.

The Israeli offensive has been going on for almost two weeks now, no place in Gaza is safe, but last night, Shejaia was the main victim of it. Tanks were bombing non stop and the air strikes were continuous  during all the night. The families were terrified and couldn’t run away. Some of them were courageous enough to decide leaving, but not all of them were  lucky enough to survive !! Dead bodies are all over the streets.

For the lucky ones (I am not sure if ‘lucky’ is the right term, maybe ‘survivors’ is better), they had no place to go to in the middle of the night, many of them went to Al Shifa hospital, till this moment they are staying there not knowing were to go while others , few of them , went to houses of family members.  In addition to that, one school-turned shelter received 1000 people from Shajaia in during one hour only this morning.



People who ran away stayed in Al Shifa hospital because they have no other place to go.

People running away.



I WILL NOT put pictures of dead bodies or children and I will never will. For those who have strong hearts, you can check the internet for pictures of the victims.

There is no need to mention that the victims were civilians, women, children, old men and in addition to that journalists and paramedics.

Right now, negotiations are going on  to agree on a 3-hour ceasefire where the paramedics can go and help the injured people and pick up the dead bodies. Nothing  is confirmed (while writing this article).


Twitter was filled with tweets by people beseeching others for help, praying for their beloved ones and covering what is happening :

My friend who lives in the east of Shajaia said to me : "The stuation is shit ! 12 martyred in my family and till now we haven't been able to get them out. Our house is destroyed !!!”







"All my family is under attack and bombing, they haven't been able to leave Shajaia yet"




        Two martyred paramedics arrive to Al Shifaa hospital from Al Shajaia "

We have nothing to do but to pray that this war will be over.
#Gazaunderattack
#PrayforGaza

Ziad Bakri
20/7/2014






































 



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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Heroes (Stories during the Israeli Attack on Gaza)


“ I had a fight with my father , he stood by the door and tried to prevent me from going out. “, said Karam, whom I was talking to through the phone.

Karam is a friend of mine, he is a nurse. He works in a hospital in Khan younis, yet his house is far away from there. During the first days of the Israeli attack on Gaza, a bus used to come and take him and the other workers in the same area to the hospital, but that day it did  not come. The situation was very critical and dangerous.

“I had to leave, the lives of my other colleagues  are not cheaper than mine. Humanity forces us to put our lives in danger just to help those in need during this difficult situation.”

He continues: “The streets were empty , I felt I was walking in a ghosts’ neighborhood (Arabic expression ). It took me a long time of walking to find a car to take me to the hospital. I was the ONLY one in the car.

“Are there a lot of injuries arriving to the hospital, Karam?” , I asked.

“In our hospital, not a lot compared to the other hospitals, our hospital is not equipped and ready for such a crisis.”

Pause.

“Ziad, you know what is the most difficult situation ?”

I did not even want to ask him to answer his question. I am the person who hides the photos of killed children and destroyed houses that the social media websites are full of these days.

Pause.

He continues: “A young guy, 18 years old , arrived to the hospital. The most difficult thing is that his whole family died and he does not know yet. They asked us in the hospital not to tell him because this will affect him deeply. “

Pause.

“Ziad, are you still there?”

He was just describing my biggest fear. Death is a terrifying thing, but the death of my beloved ones is even more terrifying. I just cannot understand how a mother can receive the news of her children dying for NO REASON! How can an 18 year old guy find himself without his family members, he is probably a freshman at university, OH GOD !! if he survives this awful war, how can he survive living the best years of his life with no family to hold him and share his experiences.

“Yes Karam, I am … Please, take good care of yourself.”

“You too.”

Group of Gazan Nurses and Paramedics
 
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I was at the pharmacy  buying some medicine for my mom. The pharmacist, whom I have been friends with for almost ten years now,  stays in his pharmacy , giving babies shots and selling medicine to those in need even under the attack.

His mom and wife keep calling him and making sure that he is safe. A mom is a mom, not matter what age her son is, when he talks to her, his tone of voice changes, you can see the child inside the over-30-year-old man who is married with two children.

A car stopped and a man came inside the pharmacy quickly, he was holding a pack full of medicine, I figured out htat he works for the company that distributes medicine to the pharmacies. As a robot, he said hi, gave him the medicine and was about to leave.

“Don’t you want me to sign the bill?” , Ahmad, my friend,  asked.

“After the war, I will get you all the bills to sign. There are plenty of pharmacies in need for medicine that I have to go to.”

On his way out, Ahmad told him: “By the way, I am sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace.”

My heart almost stopped beating, what I figured out later that  a family member of his just died the previous day in the attack and yet he was doing his job, jeopardizing his life to save the others.

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Karam, Ahmad and the guy distributing medicine are, in my opinion, real heroes jeopardizing their own lives to safe others during the attack. Gaza is full of others who are as brave and even more brave than them. All my love and prayers to them to stay safe.

While writing these words, the number of martyrs is over 165 and the number of wounded is over 1000. May Allah protect us all.
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Israeli Attack on Gaza: The Story of Ruba




“Please, tell Mr. Ziad that I miss him a lot and that I love him veryyyyyyyyyyy veryyyyyy much.”

My student Ruba typed this among other messages in a group conversation I and her other classmates have on facebook. Since the beginning of the war, I have been  a member in a lot of group conversations in order to make sure that all of us are safe, some of these contain friends, others colleagues and a big number of those for my students.

When I checked the conversation I was shocked, this is not the first time that someone starts acting as if he or she is going to die because of the war and starts telling everyone that they love him and asking all the people to forgive them. BUT NOT RUBA !!! NOT RUBA !!! Ruba is nothing but a symbol of energy, love and life.

The first thing that you will notice about her when you meet her for the first time is how full of life she is, whenever there is an activity , she will be the first to participate. If there is a project to help others, Ruba is one of the people who MUST be there. It is weird to see her just sitting, she always moves, jumps and create a chaos (a lovely one) wherever she goes.

The other girls responded to her message:

Rana: “ Don’t act as if we are going to die. We will live, you stupid!!!”

Ruaa: “Yeah, right, it is clear that we will live, and the evidence is the sound of bombardiers outside.”

Laura: “We ARE GOING TO LIVE and see each other again.”

I typed: “Ruba, I love you veryyyyyyyyyyyyy much my dear, and in cha’ Allah (God willing) the war will be over and all the group will meet and everything will be fine.”

Ruba: “I had a dream, a horrible one, that I will die because  of the bombing. The good news is that a friend of mine told me that when someone is about to die, they do not feel it. “

After a couple of minutes, me , Ruba and the other girls started talking about different things (most of them are not related to the war, which is not a normal thing in a situation like this, especially that while we were chatting the war still on and we could her the airplanes and read about the bad news.)

Right in the middle of the conversation , Ruba typed: “ I love life, I do not want to die.”

The conversation continued, and after a while everyone got busy with something.

At the same night, they were bombed !!! Three  missiles fell on the  house of her neighbors.

Four people died. Luckily , Ruba and her family are still alive. During the first two missiles, she and her brother hid under the stairs, while they were running out of the home , they saw the third missile falling. They spent the night in the street, not knowing where to go.

I spoke with her this morning, her vibrant loud voice was gone, and all what was left is a weak , almost dead voice.

“Where are you now?” , I asked.

“ We went back to our home, there is not other place to go. The problem is that we are the ONLY people in the whole street who went back.”

The funny things is that she said that the YOUNG ones are the most terrified because o f what happened. Ruba, 15 years old, considers herself an adult, not knowing that she is child who has the right to have a peaceful life and enjoy her right to discover who she is and to chase her dreams.

While writing this story, the number of people in Gaza who were killed so far is 121 , and the wounded is 924. When will this war stop ? Ruba was lucky this time, will she be  lucky in the next few hours ? tonight ? tomorrow? Praying for Allah to keep us all safe and for this dreadful war to end.

 
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Third Day of Israeli Attack on Gaza : Random Thoughts of a Civilian


“There is NO WAR” , I told my students who sent me facebook messages in the middle of the night, they were horrified because of the bombs yet asking about the classes of the next day. It used to be a surprise to me, but after living all these years in Gaza and becoming a part of it, I got it, when you live in Gaza, you get bombed, your house gets destroyed, someone dies in your family and you STAND UP, go to your work and complete your day normally, because a Palestinian does NOT have the luxury of grieving !!

“It is just a normal situation as usual. We will get bombed at night and tomorrow we will come and take our classes , do not even try to ask me to postpone tomorrow’s exam. “

I woke up a couple of hours later to find out that an escalation against Gaza was announced !!! Many people saw it coming, yet I believe I was living in denial. I just cannot handle another war…

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It is very weird how accustomed we got to the idea of wars on Gaza. The moment the news were sure, Gaza is under attack, we needed no time to think, we immediately went to the pharmacy to get my mother’s medicine, the supermarket to get the basic things we needed and we collected our formal documents in case we had to leave the place immediately.

Flashbacks keep coming back from the wars of 2008 and 2012, how clueless we were, how terrified. Don’t get me wrong, we are still terrified but for different reasons this time. Back then we were afraid because of the unknown, yet now we are terrified because we know exactly what might be waiting for us. 
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Over 85 people Palestinians  were killed and over 500 were injured... Most of them are children and women !!!

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Random quotes from friends through social media:
“This is just too much. I don’t think my unborn child or I can handle this anymore.”
“one of the difficult moments here in the hospital when a four year old injured boy asks you while crying about his father who has just martyred and you simply have to lie to him and ask him not to worry because his father is fine.”
“Our house just swayed with the nearby shelling” ( I just love the use of the verb ‘sway’, it reminded me of the song’ SWAY’. Now every time a nearby place gets bombed and our building starts shaking, I remember this status and smile.)
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I am not able to look at the photos of the children’s dead bodies. They say it is necessary for documentation, I say it is too brutal and my weak heart cannot handle them.  I am terrified that one of the kids I have taught over the years might be one of them, this would kill me!
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For muslims, Ramadan is a great month where they try to do as many good deeds as they can, it is the month of love, cooperation, getting close to god and fasting to understand the suffering of the poor people. Imagine after fasting for almost 16 hours, breaking your fast while being bombed!
 We believe that God answers the prayers we say before Iftar, many people ask for success, money, personal things, but these days, what most people are asking for is to be safe, just safe. Amen 
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I remember many times talking to my friends and telling them :”These are supposed to be the BEST years of our lives, the years of love, experiencing, making mistakes, doing crazy things… and look at us, just living a routine live where our biggest dream is whether we can get out of Gaza, whether we are going to have electricity for 6 or 8 hours a day, whether the coming day will be a war or not. This is so sad and frustrating.
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Doctors, journalists and humanitarian workers… you are heroes <3
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Gaza is under attack, civilians are being killed every minute, living in danger, not knowing where we are heading to, not sure if tomorrow we will be alive or dead…. And still, I keep thinking of you. Oh Gosh!! How much I hate loving you …
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We survived two wars.. I believe we will survive this one.. I believe that tomorrow is a better day…

 

 
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About Me

Palestinian/ Freelance writer, translator and Trainer./ I believe that writing is therapy and that is why I write./ 26 years old.
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