di Walaa Mdookh (Social Developmental Forum di Gaza)
Gaza è una sottile striscia di terra che s’affaccia sul mar Mediterraneo, nella parte sud della Palestina con un’area di circa 360 km. Vi abitano un milione e ottocentomila persone. La striscia di Gaza è sotto assedio dal 2007 e ha subito 3 assalti armati in meno di 5 anni, il peggiore di questi nell’estate del 2014 durato 51 giorni e che ha portato a una distruzione di Gaza come mai era accaduta in precedenza.
Questa situazione anche se ha riguardato tutti i palestinesi di Gaza, ha colpito più duramente le persone con disabilità che sono il 7% della popolazione.
A Gaza non ci sono rifugi per proteggersi dai bombardamenti antiaerei e gli obiettivi degli attacchi comprendevano case di cittadini ma anche ospedali, scuole e moschee. Poi venne, finalmente, il cessate il fuoco; era il 26 agosto 2014.
In una situazione che vede il 72% delle famiglie ad avere problemi a livello alimentare, potrebbe sembrare un lusso la richiesta da parte delle persone con disabilità di avere un ambiente accessibile. Prima del conflitto i disabili cercavano di cavarsela grazie anche all’appoggio delle ong e di altri finanziatori.
In tempo di guerra, i palestinesi vivendo in un o stato chiuso si rifugiano nelle case dei parenti verso il centro della città, scappano dalle zone cuscinetto dichiarate dalle autorità militari israeliane, zone che vengono poi colpite. Quando le famiglie abitano tutti assieme, non hanno nessun luogo in cui rifugiarsi e vanno allora nelle scuole dell’ Unrwav (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees).
“I miei famigliari si dimenticarono di me e scapparono fuori da casa, si dimenticarono che avevo bisogno di aiuto. Per la prima volta nella mia vita sentii che ero un peso per i miei famigliari, e desiderai morire”.
Parole amare quelle di Abeer EL-Herkly, una ragazza di 20 con una disabilità alle gambe. Quando la sua famiglia fugge a causa dei bombardamenti lei non li può seguire perché non è in grado di raggiungere il suo scooter. Alla fine riesce a salire sul suo mezzo ma subito succede qualcosa che non ricorda. Si ritrova riversa per strada in mezzo a corpi di persone morte, il fumo nero oscura tutto: hanno di nuovo bombardato. Le ferite sono lievi, ai piedi, ma ha perso il suo mezzo di locomozione ed è costretta a rimanere a letto per 10 giorni completamente immobile; solo ogni tanto uno dei suoi fratelli la trasporta in bagno.
Dopo altri 10 giorni riesce finalmente ad avere una carrozzina, ma è inadatta lei. Per 40 giorni, fina a quando la guerra non finisce, Abeer, non potrà mai lavarsi completamente.
Nisreeen ha una lieve disabilità, ma non è l’unica ad averne in famiglia; suo padre è cieco e altre due membri hanno altre forme di disabilità fisica. La sua casa è in una zona sicura, eppure, quando iniziano le ostilità, sente che i bombardamenti si fanno sempre più vicini. Nonostante il pericolo che si avvicina la famiglia decide di rimanere, perché non riuscirebbe a scappare con ben quattro membri disabili e poi non ha un’altra casa di parenti dove andare.
Ma alle fine devono scappare da casa, le bombe arrivano anche lì. “Camminavamo di notte con fatica – ricorda Nisreen – ci sostenevamo uno con l’altro ed eravamo lenti, ci superavano tutti nella corsa verso la scuola, il nostro rifugio. E quando ci arrivammo la beffa: non era accessibile per noi, tutta la gente ci guardava stupita e ci faceva tante domande sul perché eravamo così. Alle fine abbiamo chiesto di lasciarci in pace”.
Gaza Under Attack (english version)
Gaza is a narrow strip of land facing the Mediterranean Sea in southern part of Palestine with an area of about 360 sq. km. It has a total population of about 1.8 million persons. In general, Palestine has been part of a conflict with Israel spanning different decades, more specifically Gaza Strip has been imposed in siege since 2007 and has witnessed three armed assaults in less than 5 years, the worse was in the summer of 2014 which last 51 days and resulted in destruction on an unprecedented scale. These situation affected all the Palestinians living in Gaza Strip, especially the most vulnerable including persons with disability who represents (7%) of the total population in Gaza Strip according to broad definition of disability. Palestinians in Gaza do not have safe and equipped shelters to take refuge in during the aggression and above that during the aggression the civilians’ homes, public places like hospitals, schools and even mosques are daily targets to the Israeli who do not differentiate between young children, women, elderly people, nor persons with disabilities; they do not differentiate among people, trees, nor stones; they do not differentiate between dawn, morning, afternoon, evening, nor night. The aggression may take place in any time and in any place even it has been announced the ceasefire on 26th August 2014. The deteriorated economic situation prevent the Palestinians living in Gaza from affording the simple needs of daily life, as around two third of the population of Gaza was receiving food assistance prior to the crisis of July-August 2014 aggression on Gaza Strip, and food insecurity or vulnerability to food insecurity affected 72% of households. Thus, having an accessible environment for persons with disabilities would be as luxuries in their point of view in this crucial life. However, persons with disabilities prior to conflict live normal life as much as they can trying to cope with the harsh situation by joining some activities and interventions carried by CBOs, NGOs and INGOs.
In time of war, Palestinians living in the areas close to borders are used to evacuate their homes as Israeli announce it as buffer zones, they take refugee to their relatives’ homes who live in other areas in the middle of the city, in some cases all the extended family live at the same area so that they do not have relatives to evacuate in, so they take refuge in UNRWA schools. In July-August 2014 aggression, all geographic areas of Gaza were affected by conflict since the emergency was declared on 7 July, and witnessed aerial bombardment, naval shelling or artillery fire. Some 43 per cent of Gaza, located three kilometres from the security fence towards the west and in northern Gaza, were designated by the Israeli military as a “Buffer Zone”. Communities in this area experienced ground operations and fighting and were the worst affected, particularly Khuza’a, East Rafah, Al-Qarara, Bani Suhaila, Al-Maghazi Camp, Al-Bureij Camp, Ash-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in Gaza City, East of Jabalia, as well as Beit Hanoun, Umm An-Nasser and Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.
The Story of Abeer EL-Herkly
“My family forgets me and get out of the home; they forget that I need help. My elderly father and my sick mother are they only ones who stayed, for the first time in my life I felt that I am a heavy burden on my family and I wished death”.
Painful words break into tears by Abeer EL-Herkly aged 20 years and has mobility disability, when her legs were disabled to carry her and she could not use her technical appliance “the scooter” to move. She could not keep step with her family who evacuated forcibly her home along the eastern borders of Gaza City.
She said while erasing her tears, “that was in 20th July 2014 during the Israeli aggression when I found myself alone with my father after 25 member of my family had went out escaping from death that surrounded Ash-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in which we take refuge in”.
EL-Herkly with a suffocated voice “my father asked me to use my special vehicle scooter, I hesitated at the beginning because of the dangerous situation especially that Israelis target every moving thing randomly”.
She added “Because of my father’s urging and the dangerous around us, I used my scooter, but I did not know where to go, I was walking midst the dead bodies, corpses were spread in the streets”.
She continued “I was not aware of what happened, as if I was in coma, I did not feel my injury, and I did not hear the shelling. I just found myself was thrown far way among dead bodies. After a while I heard my father’s echo calling me, but the thick black smoke block the vision”.
She added “I tried to use my scooter again but I surprised by a voice behind me warning me that I am wounded again. A strange young man carried me with the company of my father until we reached the end of the street where many people are gathered near the market, and then another crime happened at that area”.
“We sat in store where they bind my wound, we appealed to taxies to drop us to Shifaa hospital but in vain, the young man -with the company of my father- obliged to carry me on foot until we reached a school then with extreme difficulty we found a taxi to take us to the hospital”.
With tears she said “the doctor said that there are other urgent cases, so there is no need for you to stay in hospital and he asked me to leave! In that moment I said with loud voice that May I lost my leg instead of my scooter!” We waited until a bus came and drop us in Tal el hawa neighborhood where there is UNRWA Schools “shelters””.
In the next day Abeer went to AL-Quds hospital in the same neighborhood of the UNRWA School as she felt the pain again until they remove the fragment from her feet. She stayed ten days in the UNRWA Shelter, as if the whole age. According to her description, “ I was alone, and I got psychological shock “ disorder” due to losing my technical appliance that assist me to do my personal needs, my siblings were obliged to carry me when I want to go to the bathroom while I am still wounded”.
After ten days, Abeer got a wheel chair but it was not appropriate to her as the UNRWA Shelter was not accessible and she again felt that she is a burden on her family.
With mixture of feeling she continued with heartbreak “I got so tired in the Shelter, water did not touch my body for forty days when the last ceasefire was announced. I went to my home which was largely damaged as it might fall in any instant.”
The Story of Nisreen Mousa Al Bahteiti
Nisreen Mousa Al Bahteiti, is a young female with mild disability live with her family in which there are other three members with disabilities one of them is her elderly father who has complete visual disability. They live in Al Sha’af neighborhood, according to Nisreen, “suddenly on Saturday, 27 of Ramadan Israeli occupation forces threatened us by a large scale ground war”. Nisreen and her family know exactly that their home is far away from the buffer zone so it will not be included in this operation; however, they are surprised that Israeli were getting closer and shelling near their home. They were scared, “especially that we are considered as a special case in the regard of our disabilities! They were casting anti-missile flares for the first time in our area, military war planes were flying heavily in the sky which gave us a misfortune sign”, Nisreen described. Family of Nisreen decided to stay at home as it is difficult for them to get out of home in regard of their disabilities and due to not having other safe and close place to evacuate to. “Then, the Israeli occupation forces started bombing us by random shells without concerning whom they are targeting, all were the same for them!”,Nisreen added, “We really went through a very dark night, because of the extreme dangerous situation in our area, International Committee of the Red Cross- ICRC- obliged us to evacuate our house. We were walking in the streets- me, my sister and my brother- we were hardly walking and we were leaning on each other. People who were behind us passed us and we were so slow. My brother carried my sister to walk quickly, but there was one problem left which is my father who cannot see we were helping each other till we arrived to the school”.
Being at a school is another tragedy for Nisreen and her family. “The place was not accessible for us at all, the classrooms were not accessible, we were not acceptable for the evacuated people there, and all of them were staring at us, we were strange persons for them. We weren’t able to adapt the school; we hardly can manage our stuff at home! People at school were wondering about our disabilities, then we explained for them asking them to leave us alone” Nisreen said.