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The Sound of the Drone – Testimonial from a survivor of Operation “Pillar of Cloud”

The narrative below is the first in a series of three stories documented by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Grassroots International partner since 1996. PCHR has gained an international reputation as an independent voice on human rights documenting abuses carried out by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Raji Sourani, the founder and director of PCHR, recently received the Right Livelihood Award (known as the Alternative Nobel Prize). The PCHR documents human rights violations, provides legal aid to victims, advocates for greater economic and social rights, in particular, defends the rights of Gazan fishers who are routinely denied access to their fishing waters by the Israeli Defense Forces.

The Sound of the Drone – Testimonial from a survivor of Operation “Pillar of Cloud”

«Just like every other day, I woke up early in the morning.   After my morning prayers, I began my morning routine of preparing bread for my children’s breakfast. I went into the open backyard to wash the big baking plate. It must have been around 6:30 in the morning.  I could hear the sound of a drone in the sky, but that was normal during the war.”

In November of 2012, the Israeli Government carried out an 8-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Najwa Alyan Abu Daqqa, a 50-year old mother of four boys and three girls, who lives in the rural outskirts of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip was severely injured in an attack on November 18th.

“While I was washing the plate, there was a sudden explosion a few meters from where I was standing… I couldn’t see anything for a few seconds. I went numb and couldn’t feel anything. But then I looked down and saw that my hands and other parts of my body were completely covered in blood. I was so shocked by the sight that I fainted…When I woke up, I was in hospital. I couldn’t believe it when the doctors told me I was in East Jerusalem and I had been in a coma for almost 4 months.”

Najwa was one of 93 women wounded during the offensive, an additional 14 women were killed. In total, Grassroots International’s partner, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented that Israeli forces killed 102 civilians, 35 of them children. They also seriously wounded 625 civilians, 214 children).

“The Israeli authorities only allow one person to accompany the patient. I could not travel with Najwa, as I had to take care of our children here in Gaza, so her brother went with her to the hospital.”

As Najwa’s husband Samir explains, “The one and a half hour journey to East Jerusalem took them four hours because they had to wait at the Erez border crossing. Her condition was so bad that the ambulance driver told the doctor in East Jerusalem that he didn’t think she would make it.”

Najwa continues to face serious problems travelling to receive the treatment she needs to recover from her injuries.

“Life is a catastrophe now. I need two or three people to help me with simple things, such as eating, and moving around…I’m in constant pain and cannot sit down properly…I have to live with a colostomy bag now…I can only pray for my health to return, and that my daughter will be able to come with me next week when I must return to the hospital in East Jerusalem.”