Mohamed Al-Attar, at right in blue, lost his wife, children and his home during the violence in Gaza in May. Rifqa Hamalwai, far left, and Khaled Abu Sharek, centre back, staff members from Al Najd, MCC’s local partner, visited Mohamed and his nephews, Yaser Dia Al Attar, bottom left, and Ali Tamim Al Attar, back left. All local COVID-19 protocols were followed in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Al Najd)
Mahmoud Alhalimi, and sons Kareem, centre, and Anas, right, are pictured in front of their still-standing house. (Photo by Sanabel Alhalimi)
Nighttime was the hardest for Mahmoud Alhalimi. With the electricity cut and bombs falling, the hours were dark and loud, as he tried in vain to help his two young children fall asleep.
The following letter was drafted by representatives of the Mennonite Church Canada network of regional working groups on Palestine and Israel, and sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, on May 2, 2018. It is being published in Canadian Mennonite at the request of the working groups.
This is midpoint in my five-week ministry here in Gaza and Bethlehem. Things are going well. While my students in Gaza are doing research, book reports and various kinds of homework, I have had the opportunity to teach classes at the college, lead workshops in the community, help to establish the peace studies center, and interact with the Muslim and Christian communities of Bethlehem.
I am writing this from prison. All 1.8 million of us who are living in Gaza are in prison. The walls around Gaza keep us (except us privileged foreigners) from leaving to work, to shop or to go to another church, town or country. We cannot sell our crops or manufactured goods. Some have meager food and very little money to buy it. We are trapped in a small space about 40 miles long and 10 miles wide."