On December 27, 2008, 27-year old Khulood Ghanem was in Gaza City when Israel launched its massive three-week military assault on the captive population of Gaza. 1400 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them non-combatants and 400 of them children. Much of Gaza's infrastructure was destroyed.
Khulood kept a diary every day of the Israeli assault. In March 2009, Khulood volunteered to help with translation for a CodePink Women for Peace delegation that managed to get into Gaza for International Women's Day. Two of the delegates -- Tacoma WA resident Linda Frank and Canadian-Israeli Sandra Ruch -- learned of the existence of Khulood's diary and asked Khulood for permission to read and make public this rare personal account of living under the bombing. Khulood translated the first seven days of the diary from Arabic into rough but clear English. Linda Frank brought playwright Edward Mast into the process to adapt the text into a performance piece which has been performed several times in the Seattle area. Plans to perform the piece in other cities include solidarity events with the Gaza Freedom March on December 31, when 1300 people from 42 countries will attempt to break the siege.
A full year after the assault ended, Gaza is still in ruins. Israel has maintained sporadic attacks as well as a siege and blockade which prevent food, medical supplies, building equipment and other necessities from entering Gaza. Israel's blockade has made reconstruction impossible, and this human-created catastrophe continues. What follows is an adapted excerpt from Seven Days From A Gaza Diary, a performance for three voices adapted by Edward mast from the diary of Khulood Ghanem, Gaza, 2008-2009
-- Linda Frank and Edward Mast]
At 11:45 I was on my way walking in the street. I heard the first rocket, the second and the third, many quick attacks, one after one, at this moment I could see nothing, all I remember was the biggest explosion I have ever seen. I started to run away, but to where? I saw the military planes in the sky at a very low level. I was scared and started to lose consciousness. All I was thinking was how to reach a safe place. The sound of bombs and explosions was horrible, the ground was moving up and down, I said, it is not a joke, it is a real, the war has started.
I stopped beside a building looking at the sky, watching the military planes. At that moment I lost my ability to move or even to think. People, girls and children, all were shouting, running every where, it was the time for students to leave their school, I thought that if they started to attack haphazardly they will make a catastrophe. I walked a lot till I felt sick, the attacks increased and all streets started to be empty from people except the emergency and ambulance cars. I was worried about my family, sisters, brothers, friends, I tried to phone every one I knew to assure that all are safe but the attacks destroyed the telecommunication net.
My journey to Khan Younis took 3 hours. It was more safe to avoid the main street because most of the police stations that have been attacked were located at the main street. Finally I reached home. All my family were sitting glaring at the screen of the TV, shocked, pale, yellow and horrible faces, sitting like idols. I took a place beside them. The first scene was the police academy. The number of martyrs was big, about 180 in one place, the scene was horrible, really can't be described, blood in every place, severed parts, heads, hands, legs and arms, couldn't be described. I spent my whole day sitting on a chair in front of the TV. I did not expect one day that I will face such catastrophe, hour after hour, number of martyrs increased and increased.
At 8:30 this night I had a call from my sister who lived in Gaza city. She was walking beside the fence of that school, she saw the heads of young children, bags colored with their blood. One child with his blue shirt, she taught him once before, he was thrown on the ground, bleeding from all parts with no legs, he was shouting and raising his hands, but no one could help. She started to scream, what should we do? I kept silence and started to cry loudly, the vision was so hard to imagine. She started to lose her breath. I told her that is enough, please stop talking, I can't tolerate. I closed my mobile and took my diary and sat in the living room . . . .
Full text of Seven Days From A Gaza Diary at www.palestineinformation.org/GazaDiary
For more about the Gaza Freedom March: www.gazafreedommarch.org
To listen to a studio recording of Seven Days From a Gaza Diary, go here.