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Occupied Lives: Targeted Livelihoods

Ahmad in front of his destroyed shop, by Anne



Ahmad Asad Mohamed al Ashqar 28 lives in Beit Lahiya, with his wife Camelia 27, and their four
children Malak (6), Wadea (3), Maha (2), and Mohamed (1). Ahmad’s father and
stepmother also live with the family.

Two years ago Ahmad started to rent a shop and
over time he has built a business selling food, drinks and household and
cleaning products. He works every day from 7 AM to 12 PM and earns approximately
600 NIS each month (US$ 160). Ahmad is the sole breadwinner of the family and
his income has to support 8 people. The house is small but as a result of his
current job, he has been able to afford a separate room where the children and his
parents sleep.

At 2:15 in the morning of 2 February 2012,
only several hours after the visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the
Gaza Strip, Ahmad’s shop was completely destroyed by a single missile fired by
Israeli air forces. Israel claimed the attack targeted a weapons storage
facility. On examining the site, however, it is evident that no one was hiding
weapons or manufacturing explosives on the premises. There are no signs of
secondary explosions, and the rubble of his shop is littered with the detritus
of a typical shop. Furthermore, they have been no reports of fighting in the
area for a number of years. The destroyed “weapons facility” was a shop – a
civilian object – on which Ahmad and his family’s livelihood depended.

At the time of the attack Ahmad was at home
with his family and they had all been asleep for several hours. As a result of
the attack, three civilians were injured: Mohammed Mustafa Mohammed Salman, 30,
and Hayat Fadel Ibrahim Taha (3) and Wadea Ahmad Asa’ad al-Ashqar (3). 13
neighboring boring houses and 4 cars were also damaged.

Hayat Fadel Ibrahim Taha, a three year old
girl who lived in the house next to the shop was sleeping when the explosion occurred.
Her father, Fadel Taha came into her bedroom, grabbed her and felt blood in his
hand. "I was so scared she would die" remembered Fadel: "her
face was covered in blood, resulting from glass shrapnel from the window."
Almost ashamed, he recounted that since the night of the incident she has
started to wet her bed again.



Ahmad, Malak and Wadea in front of ruins of the shop,
by Anne Paq/Activestills.org.


Just across the street, Wadea Ashqaar,
Ahmad’s son was also sleeping in his bed when the explosion blew out all the
windows in the vicinity of the shop. Like Hayat, he was hit by glass falling
from the window onto his face and his left ear. Malak, his older sister was
really scared because she didn’t know how to help him.

Camelia, Ahmad’s wife, is very depressed.
Ahmad describes her as: "staying at home all day, crying and refusing to
go out". He says that: "we are really afraid for our children and our
life now". Their four children, Mohamed, Maha, Wadea, and Malak are
traumatized. "They cry a lot during the day and night. Wadea weeps a lot;
he has trouble sleeping and wants to be with us in our bed every night".
Even the oldest one, Malak, speaks while she’s sleeping, "saying
incomprehensible words".

"The bomb destroyed not only the shop, but our entire
life" adds Ahmad. The grocery shop was 35m2, and all their
saving and merchandise were inside when it was destroyed. Ahmad estimates his
material losses at “around 10,000 Jordanian dinars, equivalent to around 15,000
US dollars, as well as goods, savings, and devices”. After the incident, he
tried to set up a new shop on a sidewalk but this installation is rough and
ready, just a small tarp and some pieces of woods. He has only a few goods, and
not enough money to replenish his stock, or space to sell them in. He lost his
fridges and freezers and since the attack "can’t afford his family

At the end of the interview, Ahmad tells us
that he’s very worried about his family’s future. "Our life is totally
destroyed, I can’t offer my children enough for basics needs, neither health
and nor education. The Israeli soldiers destroyed my life; I have nothing to
live and nothing to live for. What did I do wrong…?"

Ahmad is not the only one who has seen
their lives devastated by Israeli attacks. Since the beginning of this year 4 people
were killed and 19 injured in the Gaza Strip. In the same two-month period 47
buildings have been either completely or partially destroyed.

The direct
targeting of a civilian object is a war crime, as codified in Article
8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


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