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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gaza eye-witness account

This speaks for itself. This is the Palestinian state in action...
Shelly Smith, a 42-year-old teacher from the US living in Gaza, spoke to Al Jazeera about the horrors of the the factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah.
Our neighbour Waseem Arafat had gone to the Shifa hospital in Beit Hanoun to visit someone and when he came out a gunman shot him four times in the head.

I don't know if he was allied to any faction but I don't think he was in Hamas.
Waseem was brought home in a taxi.
He was a young man of about 25 years or less.
His mother cried in my arms and I took her into another room as they started to clean the body of her son.
The young men and relatives that arrived to pay their respects to the family were erupting with anger and some shouted to kill the ones that killed Waseem.
It was the father of Waseem that told them to calm down and use their heads.
It won't do any good for more to get injured or killed. He told them to help him pray for his son and then help bury him today.
Heavy boom
Today has been the worst by far, no-one can go out, a lot of the phones are out.
I have not been able to go to work since Monday.
All the high school kids are going through their exams at the moment and they are having to walk or take taxis to school.
It's very subdued in Zeytoun now and most shops are shut apart from the ones on the side streets.
We hear ambulances go back and forth, the occasional heavy boom but I'm not sure if it's artillery or something else.
As they prepared Waseem for burial his younger cousin came home from taking her high school final exams.
She was full of tears and holding her mouth and nose.
Her face paled and she was visibly weakened as the other women guided her to a chair.
Waseem used to take them to the football pitch and teach them all the cool moves.
He used to offer rides home to me when he saw me waiting for taxis. I can't tell you how heavy my heart is right now.
Desperate situation
We are staying inside, the hospitals have been calling on the radios for blood but I don't see how anyone could get to them and give blood unless they were already inside.
We are near the security headquarters where all the men were paraded outside shirtless, only about a mile, but I am not going anywhere near there, it's too dangerous.
I work for the Palestinian Commission for Refugee Rights Protection. With UNRWA closed we will have many people coming to us for help.
We don't have food supplies like them and if things don't calm down in the next few days I can see the situation getting very desperate for some people.
Things for people living by Gaza beach are also bad; the powerlines were cut or are off and they can no longer fill their water tanks, so I don't know what they are doing without power or adequate sanitation.
When we listen to the radio it just says to stay inside and keep off the streets.
Many people are calling in to the radio stations and they are very, very angry with all political parties over the violence.

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