A voice from Gaza: Majeda Al-Saqqa

9th January 2009 at 3.30pm

Majeda Al-Saqqa works for the Culture and Free Thought Association, a group that was established in 1992 to improve life for the people of Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza by running community activities for children, young people and women. She spoke to Ctrl.Alt.Shift about her experiences over the last few weeks, her belief in the power of the masses and her hopes for the future.

“At the moment I’m in my house in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. It’s quiet, but there is no electricity and there are some airplanes in the sky. It’s a bit tense because we don’t know what will happen. It seems that there are some escalations, from what we heard on the news, so we don’t know what is going to happen.”

“Because we don’t have electricity we don’t have access to TV news, so we’re just listening to local FM radios all the time. They are reporting about what is happening in several places across the Gaza Strip. The Israelis are in the eastern villages of Khan Yunis, but so far they have not entered into the city. Of course, you can still hear the shelling and the air-strikes all the time.”

“In my opinion, I don’t think this war has anything to do with Hamas, even though Israel has announced it is because of what Hamas is doing. If we look at the history, if we look at 1948 or 1967, or the first Intifada, it’s not always Hamas. Unfortunately, it is the Israeli regime and the occupation that is doing this.”

“With what we are seeing in the world, I don’t think anything will change withIsraelas long as the American administration is acting this way, as long as the EU is acting this way, and as long asRussiais acting this way. Unfortunately, all the people who supportPalestineare the people, the masses who are not in power. They are the supporters for the Palestinian cause and the right to live free and to end the Israeli occupation. As long as the EU is rewarding Israel and upgrading their relationship, the Israelis have no reason to stop what they are doing. Unfortunately, it is an arrogant state, and we are hoping that the people, the masses in Europe andAmerica, in the Arab world and the Muslim world, will continue their revolution and change the situation inPalestineas well.”

“We hear about protests all over the world. Supporters from London or Europe or the Arab world will call random phone numbers in the Gaza Strip and they are supporting people and telling them that the masses are on the street and that they are protesting in the big cities and in small villages, even. This is our hope. Our hope is that our freedom will come from the people. I don’t think we have any hope in any of the governments of the world, not even Obama. He said that he will bring change, but his last statement equalised the victim and the oppressor. We were so disappointed, because he is saying he cares about the security in Sderot, but he does not care at all about the hundreds of people who are dying, the children who are dying in Palestine. I mean, because of 17 people in Sderot who suffered from the rocket, I don’t know how to describe it but it’s nothing compared to the F-16s that are hitting civilians, that are hitting children. And I don’t think you did not see it. Everybody saw it, everybody is a witness of this crime. Unfortunately, Obama is part of an administration, and I don’t think his administration will allow him to bring change. I don’t think the American administration is ready for any change in the Middle East, but we were hoping that the EU, or the UK after Blair, would do something but unfortunately they are still very shy in their statements, and it’s undermining the Palestinian cause and it’s dehumanising, sometimes. So we are waiting for the people, but because we are struggling for our rights, our freedom, for justice and for peace I think we are going to win.”

“There was no warning at all when the attacks started. Our kids were in kindergarten and at school. It was a Saturday so it was a day off for us but the schools were open. People were in the market, just like every day. This is why it was so bad, and it killed so many people. In a second they changed the whole geography of Gaza, but no Government is doing anything about it. It happened all of a sudden, there were bombings everywhere, huge sounds and huge lights. It was like an earthquake, the house was moving. My first thought was of my nephews in kindergarten. I ran down the steps and went towards the door to go and get them, but fortunately our neighbour was near the kindergarten, and he brought them with him. It happened in a few seconds, it lasted maybe five minutes, but they hit so many places at one time. Then we heard that it’s all over the Gaza Strip, so we tried to call my brother, my relatives, my friends, my colleagues. We just wanted to understand what was going on. Unfortunately the phone lines were not working, mobiles or landlines, and it took two or three hours before they worked again. It was horrific, I can’t describe it. It is the most awful thing that’s happened in our lives. I just can’t describe it, it’s heartbreaking, because people were just in the markets and in their work, the children were in kindergarten and schools, and here you have this war-machine that is taking over your sky and your whole life, they are hitting everywhere. Nobody is talking about this trauma, they are just talking about the Israelis in Sderot unfortunately.”

“Of course I think that one day we will see a peacefulPalestine. I think I will see it myself, and I think my nephews and so many other children will live in better situations and have better lives soon, because what is happening is madness. What the Israelis are doing is a crime, and criminals can’t escape all their lives. They will be caught one day, and they will be brought to justice. I think they went out of control, and I don’t think the world will allow them. If the world will allow them, then I don’t think anybody deserves to live in this earth.”

“My message to the people in Britain is please go on and continue your fight, because the Palestinian cause is not only a Palestinian cause, it is a Human Rights cause. We are all humans sharing this earth together, so it is your responsibility as much as it is our responsibility to stop the craziness of the Israelis. It is their duty to work to bring change with the British government. I think every nation, every people in their own country, should work to bring change within their own government.”