Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Letter from Gaza

My friend Yasmine wrote me this letter from Gaza.
It speaks for itself of a reality we can only imagine from such a distance.

Dear all,

I'm sorry for not being in touch and for not writing sooner, but words are failing me, and I cannot articulate what Gaza feels like right now. A hopeless prison with a dark gloomy cloud over it. It's been raining for three days now and its starting to get cold. Unfortunately with rainstorms, come power outages, so that means there is no water or electric heaters. Gas heaters are not operatable either because of the high gas price, that's when gas is even available. But also because most people are saving their gas for cooking food, rather than using it for heaters, especially with a possible invasion coming in two weeks and the possible cut off of gas. I feel for people without access to heat. I also feel for people like my aunt whose house was demolished and is living in a half built house with no windows that UNRWA stopped building because they ran out of cement and other building materials. It's the beginning of the winter. It's only going to get colder.

I also can't help but think of Gaza's sick and dying….in their frailty, lying there helpless…wishing…hoping…praying that by God's mercy they would be allowed a permit to leave Gaza, or by some sort of miracle someone will save them. But most are denied access..…and most die a slow agonizing death, and only then are their bodies free.

And the world reads about it, but its just another story, another one of Gaza's tragedies. But I wish the world would realize how real this is and how real these sick people are. Some of these sick patients are my uncle who has heart disease, or my little cousin with a tumor, and now unfortunately my aunt's husband who one day was walking, and the next day woke up crippled from a brain tumor. And when you see people you care about so sick and unable to leave Gaza, you first get angry for having such shitty luck, and for the injustice of the world….the type of anger that turns into fury and consumes you, until it becomes exhausting. You then resign yourself to the reality of Gaza's fate…which finally sinks in. But with that reality comes hopelessness and the crippling feeling of helplessness. And so my uncle, my cousin and my aunt's husband lie in a hospital, waiting for their permits, and none of us can do a thing other than pray or chase around people who may know someone who knows someone who can help us with a permit. But we know full well how real death is, and that most just die while waiting. And then a human rights organization issues a statement, yet again, another Palestinian dies because they were denied access to medical care. And their only crime was being born Palestinian in Gaza and falling ill. Nowhere else will you see this but in Gaza. And no place else will the world remain silent at the obscenity of Israel's inhumane acts, except in Gaza.

It's hard to not feel like we're in a large concentration camp as I see Gaza's empty streets, and the hopeless feeling in the air…and just the gloominess that has covered Gaza. I think most people feel abandoned as we are literally locked up in this small, concentrated space and we don't know what the world plans for us, or what to expect next. It's hard to imagine what being in Gaza does to someone's will until you've come here. You no longer feel alive, in fact, you're not living; you're just killing time until some sort of change happens. Sadly, Gaza has become desensitized to the rest of the world, as it feels like the international community has turned a blind eye to the reality that is Gaza, and as long as Israel is allowing some food in and hasn't completely cut off electricity or gas..and as long as we are kept alive, no one will ask about us.

But just because we are breathing, that doesn't mean we're alive.