Friday, May 28, 2021

From Gaza: "I Just Want to Live in Peace"


From MennoPin (Mennonite Palestine Israel Network);  Reprinted with permission;  First published for MennoPin email list, May 25, 2021


It was morning for us in the United States, but it was early evening in Gaza City. Last Saturday, members of the Fellowship of Hope and MennoPIN were on a Zoom call to the Gaza City YMCA. The biweekly calls are part of MennoPIN’s Gaza Twinning Initiative where Mennonite congregations “twin” with groups in Gaza to share about each other’s lives and to show Gazans that they are cared for, loved and supported by Christians in the United States.

                                   A Bombed Apartment Building Near the Gaza City YMCA

(Credit: Gaza City YMCA)

The cease fire between Israeli military forces and Hamas was just two days old, but the three people we spoke with, a man and a woman (both leaders of the YMCA) and a young girl (who goes to the YMCA) were still shaken by the devastating attacks. The YMCA building had not taken a direct hit from Israeli missiles but a nearby apartment building, pictured above, did. The aftershocks shattered the offices and the Kindergarten room. It will take at least $50,000 to repair the damage.

Their voices broke and tears flowed as they shared with us what they experienced. Many people they knew had died. Too many children were also killed. The streets around the YMCA were damaged so badly that they were unrecognizable. Day after day the ground shook from the incessant raining of Israeli bombs. They are now suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, experiencing depression, unable to sleep. The man said he had been through all the Israeli bombings of Gaza since 2007. This was the worst, he told us, his hands hiding the tears steaming down his cheeks. Here are some of the other things they said:

“They are treating us like animals, not as humans.”

“Who is this government, who are the people who do this?”

“Netanyahu, who will take care of the orphans?”

“We wake up each morning and are amazed to be alive for another day.”

“We’re sad, but we will never be defeated.”


The young girl showed us paintings she had made while bombs fell from the sky, and then she looked at us with pleading eyes and said: “I just want to live in peace. Stop the killing.”

For her and for millions of people in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the cease fire will not let them live in peace. This war did not start when Hamas fired missiles into Israeli territory, and Israel’s heavily disproportionate response was falsely justified by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Biden Administration as "self-defense." This war was launched by Israel.

This war started with right-wing Israeli settlers trying to forcibly evict Palestinian families from their long-held homes in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. This war started with the storming of the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan and shooting people at prayer with rubber bullets. This war started with Israeli mobs destroying Palestinian businesses and attacking people on the street. But this war's genesis goes back much further.

Munther Isaac is a Palestinian pastor, author, and professor living in Bethlehem. In a recent article in Sojourners magazine, Isaac laid out the decades-long roots of Palestinian resistance to Israel's military occupation and crushing oppression: “Peacemaking begins by refusing to repeat the common descriptor of what is happening in Palestine and Israel: a conflict. Palestinians are not experiencing a conflict between two parties. We Palestinians are experiencing an occupation; one nation controlling another; the laws, policies, practices, and military of one state oppressing the people of another, controlling nearly every aspect of our lives. Palestinians in Jerusalem are not facing evictions from their homes. They are experiencing ethnic cleansing.”

The cease fire is not enough. It is time to end the occupation, to grant the right of return to Palestinian refugees, to tear down the walls and blockades and to give the people of Palestine freedom, equality, justice and peace. It is indeed time to stop the killing and let the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem live in peace.


Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network | | |

No comments:

Post a Comment