Amid scenes of utter devastation, is the ever prevalent, ever existing humility, humanity, resilience that is Palestine. We returned yesterday to Umm al Nasser village in Northern Gaza. A village that Israel, in its latest attacks on Gaza tried to wipe out and almost succeeded.
It’s hot and dusty, all around us are remnants of an unjust war, and still the children play and we sit, as usual, cross legged on the sand and drink sweet, sweet tea and talk and listen and admire in awe the hospitality of this village where we spend so much time these days.
As is customary, We sit under the shade though there have been times, we have sat indoors for shelter from a scorching sun or the wind and rain…It is not an option today, unless we climb through the rubble and search in vain for a room with a roof left. Later we wander around to where the Mosque used to stand, pass by the car that was driven over by an Israeli tank in the area where the new well will be drilled, see home after home partially or totally destroyed, 150 families in this village alone have no home left. The homes that remain are riddled with shell holes, bullets holes or walls knocked from tanks. Some are staying with friends or relatives, some have moved out of the village to rented apartments in nearby towns and some just erected makeshift tents of plastic and canvas sheets in the ruins of their family homes. For those that did leave, it is almost impossible to return each day to begin to salvage what is left of their homes and lands.
Further up the sandy road is the Kindergarten…or rather was the Kindergarten. This was an Italian sponsored kindergarten for the preschool children of a village of 5000 residents. Flattened! All that remains is a massive crater, dust, twisted pieces of metal…and a burned and torn EU flag that originally flew from the building… (There was nobody left in the village when the Israeli’s blew up this school… Is education of infant’s such a threat to the national security of Israel? )
On the eleventh day of the onslaught, the villagers were all forced to evacuate. The Israeli ground troops actually invaded the village. The village is right beside the Israeli border and the front line for Gaza. The tanks rolled in across the crops, the bulldozers flattened what they came across….and 50 days or so without water meant that what the tanks, the bulldozers, the flares and the shootings did not already destroy, the harsh sun dried to a crisp…. There is nothing left. The chili plants disintegrate between your fingers, the corn is brown and dusty, and the ground is sand…. Destroyed. Lemon trees broken, burned, crumbling. Many of their animals were killed, camels, sheep, cows… One man alone lost all his crops, all his animals and his home destroyed……..
But already they are beginning to replant … they have no choice. The UN came, took notes, and never came back. .. The NGO’s did not turn up. We did, thanks to your support and donation’s … We promised a well and we will drill a well!
We believe Water is a right, we believe life is a right… and we believe water is a right to life. The villagers will replant their fields, slowly… The children will return to a classroom somewhere and the village will find a way back….but not without water. There is no water in the village, 5000 people are relying on trucks to turn up to deliver water sporadically.
We begin to drill this week… We will continuously update with news, pictures etc but we are short of the funds needed to complete……….We are close but still short. Please, on behalf of the villagers of Umm al Nasser, on behalf of Irish in Gaza, on behalf of just 2 people, Derek and Jenny Graham and on behalf of what is left of humanity, do what you can. Donate, if you can, Share, even if you cannot…