By Nedaa Nedal Al-Abadlah
Hello, my name is Nedaa, I am a young mother who lives in the Gaza Strip – an area of land measuring about 360 square kilometres and the most highly populated place in the world – home to 1.5 million people, including 1.1 million Palestinian refugees.
I am a witness to the aggression carried out on Gaza, under the Israeli siege since 2007 – but despite all I have seen – I have never lost sight of one thing, hope.
I write so that people like you, people in Ireland – one of the countries that has showed Gaza so much love, will know my story.
As a result of this long siege, factories stopped working, which saw unemployment spiral to 65%. It is hard to get basic medication and medical supplies.
Though statistics have showed that between July and August 2014, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel – people also die here due to an inability to access healthcare.
Hundreds of patients have died needlessly simply because they can’t travel to access better health care.
Ireland knows about a property crisis, but imagine what it is like here in a land far away but full of innocent people. The siege stopped any construction projects. While the homes of families, our mosques, churches, schools and hospitals, have been damaged.
Despite destruction surrounding us, we find a way to live and we always stand up after falling.
The people of Gaza dug tunnels from the Palestinian side of the city of Rafah to the Egyptian side. These tunnels were used to buy goods, food, fuel and some building materials.
But even when we used such plans to maintain a type of freedom under the harshest of conditions, we were presented with more adversity.
Even after tunneling just to get to the shops, the Palestinians were forced to pay higher prices for anything we bought.
And then, finally, the tunnels were closed with the beginning of the rule of president Abdulfattah Al-Sisi to Egypt, and what were left, were destroyed by war planes later.
But a new crisis has started to emerge due to the Israeli blockade, a shortage of electricity. Sometimes we are left completely in the dark. An electricity cut can last up to 16 hours a day.
Imagine being in the dark, without any power. There is no light to see your way round, no light to carry out simple tasks in the home. Sending an email, making a cup of tea, heating a babies’ bottle – they are such simple things anyone should be able to do.
The black outs have also led to a series of fires too because just like you, in a power cut, we use candles and fuel to light our homes at night. Tragically, many families were burned alive just in their bid to gain light.
As a witness to the aggression on my homeland, which is still continuing when I write this article, I feel I am waiting for death – and I know that is not something most people in Ireland could or should understand. I would not wish that feeling on anyone.
The thought of waiting for death is something that runs through my head and I think how it might be.
Here is what I think: Imagine you are lying on your bed and you suddenly hear the sound of a falling rocket. You close your eyes and put your hands over your ears, you listen to your breath and think you are going to die but then you realise that it’s not your turn but your neighbour’s.
Imagine you are at home, eating, drinking, reading, or maybe watching TV, and you suddenly get a phone call ordering you to leave your house because it is going to be bombed in five minutes.
You cannot take anything or think of anything but getting everyone out. In just one minute every item that has ever mattered to you is gone. All your clothes, money, childhood memories, your childhood bed, the window you watched the stars from every night before sleeping and that nail polish you want wear with that dress, just to feel normal.
But those are just things and things can be replaced. Imagine if you lost part of you – if you lost your sight and you would never see the sky, the sun, your mother, your favorite movie or your friends, ever again.
Or imagine you had been out when the bomb hit and returned to true horror – to find not only your home is gone – but your family has also been wiped from this earth.
Imagine breathing in gas and you don’t know what it is or the damage it could be doing to your insides, or waking up in the middle of night to the sound of an explosion. You have no water to drink or even a basic human need, a toilet.
You live for days without any power. You move school and are placed with strangers because you do not have a home anymore thanks to bombing.
You would have to imagine very hard to consider this harsh reality – but perhaps if you try a little, you can begin to understand. These are just samples of what we go through every single minute. And the vast world we live in does not say STOP.
You should know that Gaza does not need your money because we are not beggars. We do not need your sympathy or condemnations because we are not stupid. Gaza needs a real stand. Gaza needs acts, actual acts.
The death toll during the continuous brutal Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has risen to 2,102 including 567 children and 259 women.
While the number of the wounded has increased to more than 10,647 including 3,237 children and 2,010 women.
Looking at the statistics of human loss, the suffering of children, I ask what is the world waiting for to utter one word, four letters – perhaps the easiest thing to say in the English language. It is a word a mother tells her child when they show aggression in the playground – STOP.
There are families that have been wiped completely from existence. Entire generations. Those are real souls and humans, who feel, who loved, who bled, just as we all do, regardless of religion or beliefs. We are your brothers, your sisters.
Those who died were normal children playing with toys and wearing Spongebob t-shirts. The little girls were fans of Selena Gomez. They used to follow fashion like other girls.
They were normal girls dreaming of that day when they would wear that white dress. Along with so many deaths, dreams were killed. Families have been erased. We wish we could wake up from this nightmare but that will only happen when you shout louder than you ever have before one word – STOP.