05 June 2008

I believe this will prove to be productive visit

I made my ninth visit to Palestine in May – but only to the remnant which is Gaza

I decided to return quickly to Gaza because there were important things to sort out. Furthermore, there is a limit to writing and to willing justice, when 1.5 million people are under a medieval siege that was first laid in March 2006.

On our way to Gaza city, Khamis my brother doctor, pointed out a large notice which held the names of the 120 people who had been murdered around March 1 2008. 5 babies were included in the massacre, and another was yet to be born.

I found the population calm. There were very few guns to be seen. There were not many cars on the streets because fuel was only being sent in from Israel in small quantities. In the evenings there were many people walking in the streets and in all sorts of garb. Ladies with hijabs marched with others who wore jeans and T-shirts. Most of my 10 nights I could hear heavy guns in the north or south. These were either Mercaver tanks or ships firing to shore. And most nights people died – usually guerillas.

Nihad listed those young people who will leave school this summer and who will need replacement. The beautiful rugs that Sawaf made with the British wool after our voyage were moved to our offices for safe keeping. I was taken to see a charity for the blind, CCAST again about an outreach hearing and speech clinic in Rafah and I met with the Association of Engineers. I again visited the Islamic University, spending time with the President and with the medical school staff. There was an anatomy exam that afternoon and it had been very well set up. I was glad I was not asked any questions!

My focus was on the idea put forward by Nihad – that is an FM radio station devoted to education and culture/arts. As things go it would not be an expensive project. I met two groups of people to discuss this
and there was universal enthusiasm. The main objects we defined are:- to inform, to enlighten, to inspire and to dignify. The latter two are the most important; the poor family, which is in a large majority, probably feels forgotten by the world. I have gathered a great deal of information and once some more details are in I will put a plan to the board of trustees.

Because of a misunderstanding I missed a highlight for my last evening. Dr Eyad Serraj's driver Samir plays the drums very well. His band was going to play traditional music for us in Dr Eyad's beautiful garden. There will be a next time inshallah.

The two friendly taxi drivers, who had been with us for some days (one wearing the D&D T-shirt I had given him), took me slowly to Erez on May 28 past scenes from the Warsaw ghetto. I feel greater sadness each time I leave this speck of our earth. It has become a second home, and all those within my sisters and brothers.

Image - bombed refugees February 2003