Salaam and greetings to everyone who reads my first blog post of my trip to Palestine. Hopefully you will enjoy it and at the same time experience with me my journey in the blessed lands of Gaza, Palestine.
As i sit in As-saftaawi, in the Gaza strip i am overwhelmed with feelings , thoughts and emotions as to how i actually ended up here . The journey thus far has been one of trials, tribulations , dreams and adventure. The kindness, friendliness, hospitality and love that i have received from the people of Gaza cannot be expressed in words. I am completely humbled and privileged to meet such an amazing group of people.
Being my third week in Gaza i have covered the situation of the over 4700 Palestinian detainees being held in the Israeli jails. With the successful hunger strikes of Hanaa Shalabi and Khader Adnaan the people of Palestine fought the battle of empty stomachs against Israel with mass hunger strikes by ex -detainees , families of detainees and all those who stood in solidaritry with the detainees.
The news arrived to my ear by the loud speaker of Kholifaah Musjid, not undertsnading arabic , my host Sufiyaan Al Nasr stated that the hunger strike was successful and that the demands of the detainees will be met by Israel. i sudden burst of joy jolted through my body and i was not sure whether to shout in excitement or take a moment and say Shukraan Ya Rabb(Thank you my Lord) for answering the calls of the detainees.
i immediately took a taxi from Jabaalia Refugee Camp , where i was located to jundy in central gaza where the mass protest solidarity tent was located. The street was full of cheering people and cars were hooting for miles and miles. The green flag of HAMAS was clearly visible and so too were the chants of Allah hu Ahkber…The atmosphere at jundy was electric to say the least and i had the chance of bumping into Shahad Abu Salama, a well known Palestinian and Blogger who informed me in detail on why the hunger strike had ended and considered a success in Gaza.
With the city of Gaza finally experiencing some joy i decided to meet with some of the youth ( a.k.a Shabaab) who had invited me for dinner in Sahaba Street. This guy was awesome , i forgot his name but he studied English and spoke really fluently. We made our way to the rooftops on Gaza and enjoyed some local Palestinian food. It was like a homemade lasagne with cheese served with fried french fries, olives, salad, pita breads , chilli and hummus. Of course after what i can only describe as a dinner which had been blessed from heaven ,it was time for dessert. we tucked into some custard slices topped with chocolate and nuts. FINALLY it ended with both tea and coffee. i have probably picked up 5kgs just thanks to the amazing hospitality of the Palestinian people as food is really part of their amazing culture. We ended the night with some dabke and traditional Palestinian folk music and by me asking the youth how they see an end to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict…
The time now is 1: 30 AM and i will have to be at the BYNA NGO tomorrow morning in order to interview a widow who lost her husband in Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09. i was told she will be wearing niqaab and speaks arabic. Luckily for me i willl have my friend , Mohamed Bayed who will be my translator for the interview . It is also the anniversary of Al Nakba or catastrophe when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were made homeless and refugees with the creation of the Zionist state of Israel. Do this day Palestinians are denied the rights of return to their homelands and have not forgotten about it either. The word is that their will be a protest march from jundy to the UN offices in Gaza and i cannot actually believe that i will be in Gaza for the historic occasion.
With that, i conclude my first blog post on my trip in Gaza and take time to remember those who made the huger strike a success. Well done to every activist and person who demands peace , justice and basic human rights for their fellow human being.
Mom, Dad ,my dear sister Haadia and dear brother Khalil not a day goes by without me thinking of you. I love you and hope that all is well back at home in South Africa
Good night/Tisbah Ala Khair