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Tears of Gaza

When was the last time you thought about death?

Was there a time when you felt you were so close to losing your own life? Have you ever experienced that scary feeling-except maybe in the movie theatres? …have you ever felt like not actually living, you’re still breathing … but you’re living as dead?

Most people live their lives never thinking about nor contemplating death. It is human nature. We were born to live and think about how to best enjoy our life while we are still alive. It is in our genes of survival. Something inside us drive us away not from death but from pondering at death. Maybe because death is the only concrete and dreadful fact we are sure of. But in some places and with some people death sometimes can be seen as their shadow on the ground.

When you can’t eat, drink, move freely, watch TV, have access to internet, have a decent job and home and send your kids to schools then DEATH could be a liberating thought.

…And when the world is celebrating the rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground — whom we all are glad to see brought back to life again — but at the same time the world is playing deaf and blind to the 1.5 million Gazans virtually buried above ground and besieged like animals, then something is terribly wrong with the morality of the international community.

Gaza, this narrow strip of land — the aching remnant of Palestine — where the orange and olive trees have been growing for hundreds of years has lately turned into death fields and a hunting ground for the people who planted and watered those evergreen trees generation after generation.

Olive trees have always been the icon of Palestine something like the Eiffel tower for France. Uproot a tree and you simply tear out a page of history of the land. And if the official estimates of the uprooted olive trees by the Israeli bulldozers are around one million trees then we are witnessing a massacre of the history of Palestine.

Gaza: the history

The history of Gaza goes back to the 15th century BC; Gaza has been dominated by several different peoples and empires throughout its history. Starting with the Egyptian empire then the Roman and Byzantine Empire.

With the advent of the seventh century Gaza flourished as a commercial center under the rule of the Muslims and was incorporated into the newly formed Arabic empire. The crusaders left the city as ruins to be taken by the Ottomans in the sixteen century and to enjoy a period of stability, great commerce and peace that somehow lasted till the end of the WW1 when Gaza became a part of the British mandate of Palestine. 1948 marked the savage Zionist occupation of the land of olives. Gaza was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, but in 1993, the city was transferred to the Palestinian National Authority. That did not stop Israel from carrying on its policy of ethnic cleansing towards the Palestinians and especially the Gazans.

The history of Gaza is the history of empires come and empires go but the people of Gaza always remain in the land, They do not go. They remain to grow more children and more olive trees. Many times they have been conquered but never have they been treated like prisoners. Never have they been terrorized nor punished except by the Israeli occupation. Never have they been humiliated nor the olive trees uprooted like this before.

The baffling thing about the Israelis is that they came and settled — by brutal force — in Palestine employing historical claims to the land which in fact says almost nothing about any ancient Israelites. The Promised Land seems to recall no memories of those who were promised the land. The excavations revealed abundant Egyptian, Roman, and Islamic archeological findings but hardly any Jewish relics that could parallel the enormously exaggerated history or rather tales of the bible. The honest Israeli archeologists — Ze’ef Herzog and Israel Finkelstein — argue that Israelis should be mature enough and grow up to the fact that the Exodus from Egypt, the holy patriarchs and the kingdom of Judea are nothing but mere fairy tales.

The only true history of the Jews in Palestine is the history of an integrated minority of tradesmen and herders (they were always on the move) who happened to excel at telling and propagating stories.

If the Promised Land could talk, it would talk in Arabic, scream in Arabic and yell at the Israelis to stop lying, to stop invading the fields of olives. If the land could talk, it would say “Israelis, I do not know you.”

Tears of Gaza: the documentary film

But the land cannot talk and neither can the international community. In these times of global marketing of terrorism and deceit, only free voices of artists, writers, and activists speak the truth. One of the latest examples of showing solidarity and compassion with the people of Gaza is Vibeke Løkkeberg, a Norwegian film actress and director who while watching the news coverage of the ruthless Israeli war on Gaza during the winter 2008-2009 became so deeply moved that she decided to make a documentary revealing the naked truth of what really happened in Gaza that winter. The Israelis called the inhumane raids “cast lead”, Løkkeberg called it in the film Tears of Gaza but the UN “Goldstone report” described it as “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”

The UN report was right this time. The Israeli occupation was not about claiming historical right. It is becoming more evident everyday that what Israel really after is creating a new geopolitical reality despite all contrary historical facts and findings. And the Israelis are pursuing this aim with utmost ruthlessness relying not on historical rights but rather dependent on an arsenal of formidable weaponry and the everlasting American blessings.

In her opening address at Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010, Lokkeberg said: “I was furious at the sight of these victims, and felt obliged to give these people some of their dignity back. Since the media is censored and there are very few realistic scenes displayed about what’s really happening in Gaza, I decided to go for this film. I couldn’t just sit there and watch.”

In the film we hear the story of Amina, a 10-year old who had witnessed her father being blown into pieces. Amina’s brothers were all shot while running out of the building in which they lived, after the bomb blast.

The little girl was left alone, with an injured leg that she describes during the 82 minutes screening as “a leg that looked like chopped liver”.

“I wished I could have died with my brothers and father,” she said.

People in Gaza don’t fear death anymore. They don’t fear the Israelis; this is the final cut of the documentary and of the real life: the Israelis are the ones left in fear of the future and of their crimes… for no crime is left without punishment.

A lot of people among the audience at the opening of the film couldn’t endure the whole 82 minutes of the documentary scenes of bodies of innocent children, men and women being dug out of rubble, with missing body parts, gaping abdominal wounds, amputations and burns (shown to cover about 50% of one 3-year-old girl’s body) caused by phosphorous bombs, which only burn hotter if doused with water

It is just too much for an ordinary person to watch. But sadly, this is what has happened in Gaza, and is still going on.

But the Gazans are willingly enduring this unbelievable suffering and humiliation in the hope that one day the so called free world will come to quit the silence and the stigma associated with it over the Israeli crimes against humanity in the besieged Gaza — the land left of what used to be the olive fields or Palestine.

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat is a medical doctor who writes articles about ancient Egyptian history, ancient Near Eastern history, comparative religion, and politics, especially the Arab- Israeli conflict. He can be contacted at: amenhotep.55@gmail.com. Read other articles by Ashraf, or visit Ashraf's website.


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