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Sabah, student at Gaza University, Documented by the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC), 14 January 2009
My name is Sabah, I am 19 years old and I am medical student at Gaza University. On the 27th of December 2008, I had an exam on the seventh floor of the university building. I was writing my exam when the first bomb landed, I heard the sound but continued to write my exam. I did not lose my concentration. Some of my classmates were shouting, I could hear them but I just did not want to stop writing on the exam. Then I heard the voice of the teacher saying loudly: “OK, all go to the corridor and finish your exams, throw yourselves on the floor and write, quickly!” Then, the second bomb came, the third the fourth…So the teacher said: “Ok, give me your papers and stay calm, it seems it is not like other any day”. You know, this is because sometimes we hear bombs and other sounds, and it turns out that a car was bombed, or a house, and that is it. However, this time it was many bombs, so I realized that this was something different. The teacher, said again: “your life is more important than the exam, give me your papers, and stay in the building until we understand what is going on, and if we have to leave the building, then do it carefully.”
It was then that I realized that it was a big thing; it was not the ordinary bombing like on other days. I found myself crying and shouting. My classmates said to me: it’s good you are back to reality, when we all shouted and cried, you wanted to finish your exam! I suddenly remembered that in front of our university there is a police station. This explains why the bombs were so close. All the windows of the floor where we were taking the exam were destroyed, and the whole building shook.
I ran out of the university to get home. I live in a rented house with my two cousins. I called them on their mobiles. One of them was on her way back home. The other was crying and shouting: “Sabah, I am afraid come home quickly!” I was walking quickly and using back streets to avoid the bombs. While walking, I was trying to call my parents, but the mobile phone network collapsed and I could not get through to them for four hours. They told me later that they also were trying to call me but couldn’t get through.
When I got home, I found one of my cousins, Sarah in the house of one of our neighbours. She left the house when she heard the bombs, first in her pajamas, and then went back to the house to change into some clothes. Our other cousin, Hanan, was still not back home. We waited for her in our neighbors’ home who refused to let us go back to our house, they said it was safer to stay together. After 30 minutes, Hanan arrived home. She told us how afraid she was, so afraid that she had almost forgotten the way back home.
After 4 hours, the telephone lines got better and I was able to call my parents who live in Rafah. My father came immediately to collect me. Thank God I was able to go back home with him, otherwise I would have had to stay in Gaza City until now, because all the roads are impassable and the war just broke out without warning.
I am so afraid that I will lose my brothers or parents. I keep thinking about what would happen if they bombed the house. Sometimes I find myself thinking about what I would do if we receive the call from the Israelis like other people, telling us to leave the house. What I will take with me if they bomb our home. So I think the first thing I will carry with me are my books, then I say to myself : they are heavy and I can’t carry them. Then I think so I carry my computer, but I think also, what about all my little things that I collected over the years that remind me of so many things?
It is sad to say, but since I was born, every year is worse than the other, every year is not better in any sense. There are so many gaps between my dreams, wishes and my reality.