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Occupied Lives: Not feeling safe in your own home


Tayseer Abu Mughassib, a shy 15 year old girl, is the oldest of 7 children.
Together with her mother, father, three brothers, and three sisters she lives
in a two story home south of Wadi al Salqa, a village located to the east of
Deir al Balah in central Gaza Strip. Next to her family home is the home of her
uncle, and not far behind it, stands the house of her grandmother.


On the
evening of Saturday 29 October Rawand and her family went through a terrifying
experience which left Rawand injured. Around 21.45h that evening Rawand walked
out of her uncle’s home to go and visit her grandmother, like she does every
day. When Rawand was close to the iron gate in the wall that separates her
uncle’s home from the road in front of it an Israeli warplane fired a missile
which struck four meters away from her. The missile landed on the road, just
one meter away from the gate, spreading shrapnel, blowing the iron gate out of
the wall and breaking most of the windows of the three family homes. Most of
the shrapnel missed Rawand, leaving her with a mild shrapnel injury in her left
hand. Directly after the impact Rawand’s father heard his daughter scream. He
rushed outside and he recalls “when I saw the bleeding from her hand I feared
her hand had been cut off by the shrapnel”. After receiving treatment in a
hospital, Rawand returned home, terrified.


The family members there were many Israeli drones in the air
that day but they did not witness any unusual activity in the fields around
them. The missile that injured Rawand was apparently targeting fighters who
were present in the area, injuring one of them. Rawand says; “I never felt very
afraid from drones before I was injured by the missile. Now I feel very afraid
whenever I hear a drone in our area and at night.” Since the attack she wants
to sleep in her parents’ rather than alone in her own bed.


father, Tayseer, says many things in their family changed since the drone
attack. Unlike before, the children now stay inside the house after sunset;
“both because they are too afraid to go out and because I forbids them”,
Tayseer explains. The evenings and nights are the hardest for the children and
family to get through. As soon as the sun sets and it becomes dark outside, the
children experience a lot more anxiety and are afraid to be alone. Tayseer
tries to stay with them after dark as much as he can. Since the drone attack
all family members stay in the same room from sunset until they go to bed. The
children no longer visit their grandmother in her home after dark.


three year old sister Rimas shows clear signs of distress and trauma. Her
father says Rimas “wants to climb in my shirt every time she hears a
drone”.  She has also been bedwetting
since the strike of missile. The other brothers and sisters keep having
nightmares and cry a lot according to their parents. Now they insist on
sleeping in the same room so that they feel less afraid.


This is not
the first time Rawand and her family feel unsafe in their own home. Their house
is located near the Israeli imposed bufferzone, where Israeli Occupation Forces
regularly target civilians indiscriminately by shooting at them, even as far as
one kilometre away from the border. The house is also in the frontline whenever
the Israeli army conducts incursions or targets fighters near the border.
During Operation Cast Lead the family had to flee from their home.


The parents
can do little to secure safety and happiness for their children and
themselves.  Living close to the border,
they carry the brunt of the violence that often indiscriminately targets
civilians. Tayseer wants nothing more and nothing less than a normal and safe
life for his family; “I don’t make any trouble for anyone but still I don’t
feel safe anymore in my house. The whole world should know what is going on here
and what we are facing as people living in Gaza”.


Occupation Forces often use airstrikes to target fighters in the densely
populated Gaza Strip. However, on many occasions such attacks also injure and
kill civilians who are in the vicinity of the target. Since the beginning of
this year 18 civilians have been killed and 16 have been injured in airstrikes
that targeted fighters in the Gaza Strip. Of those killed, 3 were children and
4 children were among those injured.