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From Gaza to Italy: The struggle of a Palestinian

April 6, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Some stories demand to be heard and to be shared. Some are so tragic that you feel a sense of responsibility to spread their message and guilty that you can’t do more.

It all started when my roommate told me that she’d met a Palestinian man from Gaza who was brought to Italy with his son by an organisation that takes care of kids that have health issues and whose parents are unable to pay for their medical care. Since she speaks some Arabic, she got to know a little of his story. I thought his story had to be told so, the following week, we took another Palestinian to conduct an interview with him.

The man named Aa’hed was there with his son Sayed, his brother-in-law and his son Muntaser. The boys were 12-13 years of age and the first thing that struck me was that they were quite mischievous. They would play around us while we were conducting the interview and hardly listened to the women that were there to care for them. Their father was restless in his manner of speaking and only “allowed” us to ask him two questions in the 20 minutes we were with him. He didn’t need us to ask him questions; he already knew what he had to say.

He said he was in Italy because his kids were wounded during an attack in Gaza. Two of his sons died and two were wounded, his nephew also died. He said he expected his other two wounded sons to come soon once their paperwork was ready. Aa’hed said he was worried that they would face the same complications that he faced.

He said that he spent six months trying to get to Italy. First he tried to come with his family by plane via Jordan but he wasn’t allowed so he came through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Passing the border in to Israel was obviously very hard for them.

Though they have been in Italy for two months, the family’s thoughts are in Gaza with the rest of their relatives. Though he doesn’t have the energy or desire to learn Italian, Aa’hed said his sons will pick it up soon. The day we visited the family, the children had just registered for school and were due to start the following week.

The boys had been brought to Italy to remove the bullets which had become lodged in their bodies.

Following no clear chronological order, Aa’hed recalled his story, going back to when he and his family were in Gaza on 22 December 2015. That was the day that Israeli soldiers arrested two of his sons and took their fishing boat, and the family’s lifeline. He said after that he had no information about his children.

“They didn’t only take our boats, they took our land and they take our people. We need help from others. Even those that are supposed to help us don’t. Egypt has closed the border. One of my relatives who tried to pass through the border was shot. The sea is closed, the sky is closed. The Gaza Strip is an isolated catastrophe and the only reason why I want to go back is because my family is there,” he explained

Aa’hed showed us a picture of a relative who had been shot. “This is nothing,” he explained, “you have to see what happens every day.” Though he’d like to bring this relative to Italy as well, he knows the procedures take too long.

We ask him whether he tried to get in touch with any community in Trieste. He said he contacted the Islamic community and a leading figure came once but didn’t do much for them. They also tried to contact the Palestinian ambassador in Rome, but she never replied. Even the Palestinians that helped them reach Italy stopped assisting them and returned to their homes in the West Bank or Gaza.

“We live occupied by a country that challenges laws and doesn’t respect human rights. Many kids were killed and are killed every day. Once, the soldiers destroyed an UNRWA school and the UN didn’t do anything. I ask: Where is the global consciousness? Where are all the people that speak of humanity? All they do is post on social media how sorry they are for us. We do not seek pity, we seek real action, real support. We are strong people. We don’t have weapons, but we still fight.”

“We want the American government to stop funding these terrorist attacks against us. We seek support from our Arab brothers. We know the Arab leaders stopped caring about us long ago and we don’t expect help from them, but we hope the people will stand with us. Don’t leave us alone. Palestine is Arab land. If people want to live, destiny will lead them.”

“We have hope in our youth and we rely on the next generation. We need their power, their abilities and energy in order to change things and resist the occupation. We demand democracy. We want the youth to study abroad and to spread our stories and our message, so we may never be forgotten,” Aa’hed stressed.

Rina Cakrani is a student at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, who has a keen interest in international relations and affairs. She is also a published writer.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.