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Ziad Abbas writing from Dheisheh Refugee Camp, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 3 December 2004
1 December 2004 — At a quarter to four this morning the Hamash family building was demolished with explosives by the Israeli Army. At least 12 Israeli military jeeps invaded Dheisheh refugee camp and surrounded the families’ homes, as well as Ibdaa Cultural Center’s kindergarten, which shares the same building. The Army ordered Musa Hamash, Aziz Hamash, Ahmed Hamash, and their families outside into the damp and chilly morning air.
They were given 30 minutes to remove as many of their belongings as possible before the bombing. Not only was this not enough time, but the presence of Army jeeps blocking each of the nearby narrow streets made it even more difficult for them to save family memories and some meager possessions.
The soldiers told them they were there only to bomb the 2 flats of Ahmed and Musa. Musa’s son, Mahmud, was recently sentenced to 50 months in jail and his other son, Mahammad, is currently awaiting trial. Mahmud was arrested over 2 years ago and Mahammad over 1 year ago. They both left behind young children and babies who until this morning lived in these flats.
The Army ordered the families to leave and began setting explosives throughout the homes. When bombed, the two flats were destroyed and the entire building was significantly affected, including Ibdaa’s kindergarten. Structurally the building is not safe.
The sight of childrens’ books and paintings were mixed with the rubble in the streets and the Hamash families became refugees once again. They are without homes and are distributed around the camp, seeking shelter with neighbors.
Their building contained a total of eight apartments, 3 belonging to Musa and 5 to Aziz, who rented the first 2 floors to Ibdaa Cultural Center for its kindergarten. One hundred and twenty children, aged 3-6 years old, have learned, played, danced, sung and been safe within those walls for the past 4 years.
Today these children of Dheisheh will not go to kindergarten for lessons. In just a few hours they will learn a new lesson instead: The Hamash homes were bombed and with it their haven.
Today, there will be no music, mathematics, science or history lessons. Teachers will not teach lessons to any of us. All the schools in Palestine could not teach lessons as powerful as the one the Army gave all of Dheisheh’s children today.
Ziad Abbas is the co-director and co-founder of Ibdaa Cultural Center, a grassroots initiative of Dheisheh refugee camp that provides social, educational and cultural opportunities for the campfs children, youth and women. Dheisheh refugee camp is located in the West Bank of Palestine.