#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Hashash Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

Eid of martyrs
Al-Hashash family, Rafah, in the al-Hashasheen area
7 people killed
July 29, 2014

Every morning, on her way to school, Mina passes a poster on the side of the road. She makes sure she walks right by it. If anyone is in the street, she will grab their attention and pull them close to look at the poster with her. It has pictures of her brothers, and a rose instead of a photo for her step-mom Hanaa’. Neighbours or passersby have to stand there as Mina names each one of them; once the ritual is done, she will allow them to leave.

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Israeli police kill 16-year old Palestinian girl in Jerusalem

International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) News, May 8, 2017

Updated: On Sunday afternoon, Israeli police shot and killed a 16-year old Palestinian girl near the Damascus gate in Jerusalem.

Although the Israeli police spokesperson claimed that the teen attempted to stab a security officer, that account has been disputed.

The child has been identified as Fatima Afeef Abdul-Rahman Hajiji, 16, from Qarawat Bani Zeid village, northwest of Ramallah, in the central part of the West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said Fatima was standing near the entrance of Bab al-‘Amoud (Damascus Gate), and was at least ten meters away from the near soldier or officer, and that one of the soldiers started shouting “knife, knife,” before five soldiers fired a barrage of bullets at the child.

Fatima killed (Ma'an image)They added that the Fatima was first shot with several live rounds in the chest, and the soldiers continued to fire at her after she fell onto the ground.

Many live rounds also struck a Palestinian Taxi, parked nearby, causing damage and puncturing one of its tires.

Photos of the deceased show that she was shot and killed at quite a distance from the guard post, so even if she had been holding a knife (which is disputed), no security officers were in danger at the time when she was killed.

Following the fatal shooting of the child, the soldiers used pepper-spray against dozens of Palestinians who gathered in the area, especially close to Fatima.

In addition, the soldiers assaulted many Palestinians, including children, in Sultan Suleiman Street, causing a child, identified as Mahmoud Abu Sbeih, 9, to fall from a high altitude after mounted officer chased him and many other Palestinians.

Hundreds of soldiers and mounted police officers were deployed in the area, closed many roads and alleys, and forced the Palestinians away.

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Israeli Soldiers Execute Palestinian Girl in Occupied Jerusalem

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), May 8, 2017

As part of the Israeli policy to use excessive and lethal force against Palestinian civilians, who are suspected by Israeli soldiers of intending to carry out stab attacks against the soldiers, on Sunday, 07 May 2017, Israeli forces killed a girl at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate “al-‘Amoud” in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this heinous crime. PCHR stresses this crime was committed after the Israeli political and military leaders gave the Israeli soldiers the green light to shed the Palestinian blood in light of the international community’s policy to tolerate Israel for crimes committed by the Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians.

According to PCHR’s investigations and testimonies by eyewitnesses to PCHR’s fieldworker in occupied Jerusalem, at approximately 19:00 on the abovementioned day, Fatmah ‘Afif ‘Abdel Rahman Hjeiji (16), from Qarawet Bani Zaid village, northwest of Ramallah, was walking 10 meters away from a police checkpoint, which is permanently established at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate. One of the soldiers suddenly screamed out, “knife”. Immediately, the Israeli soldiers stationed there opened fire at the girl. As a result, 30 live bullets hit her body; some of them penetrated her chest and waist from the right side. Therefore, Fatmah was killed on the spot. Eyewitnesses emphasized that after the girl fell on the ground, the Israeli soldiers continued shooting at her and not only attempting to wound or arrest her.

Following this, the Israeli police deployed in the area closed the scene and prevented anyone from approaching the girl, whose body had been on the ground for an hour. The police officers attacked and pushed dozens of civilians away. They chased Mahmoud Abu Sbeih (9) until he fell from height in the Damascus Gate area and was then taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment.

Luba al-Samri, the Israeli police spokesperson, published a statement claiming that “According to the preliminary information available, it was an attempt to a stab attack carried out by a girl that was neutralized without injuries among the police officers.”

PCHR condemns this crime that resulted in the killing of Hjeiji on grounds of suspicion of a stab attack, and:

    1. Calls upon the United Nations to offer international protection to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to guarantee that protection;

    2. Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure that Israel commit to the application of Geneva Conventions in the oPt as a State Party to those conventions;

    3. Demands the states signing the Geneva conventions to fulfill their obligations to guarantee the application of the conventions by resorting to the principle of Universal Jurisdiction to prosecute the war criminals regardless of their nationality or place of the crime to pave the way for prosecuting the Israeli war criminals and stop the impunity they enjoy for decades; and

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Najjar Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

I don’t want to remember that day
Al-Najjar family, Bani Suheila, east of Khan Younis
19 people killed
26 July 2014

A tribute to the man I can’t forget
Based on the recollections of Anne Paq,
written together with Ala Qandil and Dylan Collins

More than a week into covering Israel’s offensive in Gaza, my body was on auto-pilot: grab the equipment, look for a high point, climb, hold camera steady, document. And, of course, get people’s names – it wasn’t always possible to get much more than that. Often, I had to choose between catching a few more shots and running after those I had photographed in hopes they would share their names with me despite the chaos of the rushed funerals, hectic hospital corridors, and morgues overflowing with bodies, blood, sweat, and tears of the bereaved. It was in the hospitals that we often learned the news about the latest attacks. This was also how we found out about the scale of the destruction and death in the village of Khuza’a: in Khan Younis hospital, in the southern end of the Strip.

The hospital courtyard was full of people who had just managed to escape nearby Khuza’a, a besieged village. Ambulances could barely get through the crowds. Some people were crying, some screaming, and everyone tried to ask the paramedics arriving in the ambulances about their loved ones. Many survivors had been forced to flee and leave injured and dead family members behind. They told us about scores of dead, of others still trapped by the relentless bombing, of ambulances unable to reach the injured, of the flattened houses of their village.

#ObliteratedFamilies – Siyam Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

“She carried me in her arms from al-Abbasiyye”
Siyam family, Rafah
13 people killed
July 21, 2014

Obliterated. Her family was obliterated. Little Mayar, a noisy rascal of a girl, runs back and forth through the guest room, harassing the goats, sometimes aggressively demanding affection and attention from her grandparents Makhrous and Dalal, sometimes being a cutie and posing for the camera. She understands only to some degree what happened in 2014. She lost her parents, and her only sibling, 5-year-old Moin.

Nabil and his son Baderaddin, standing in the place where the Siyam family was attacked.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Kilani Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

“Don’t worry. This is routine for us.”
Al-Kilani family, Beit Lahiya
11 people killed
July 21, 2014

Fatma al-Kilani walks briskly into the room, gives it a quick glance, and locks her eyes on her son Saleh. She is mumbling a stream of barely intelligible words. Suddenly, she asks her son in a clear voice, “Saleh, did you find them?” When there is no answer, just an embarrassed, apologetic smile, she goes back to muttering and wandering around the house. She does not know how to sit still. Neither did her younger son, Ibrahim.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Foreword by Rajah Shehadeh

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

Don Paterson, the prize winning Scottish poet, has never been to Gaza, and yet following the news of the Israeli attack on the Strip in the summer of 2014 found that he could not remain silent. He wrote a sonnet about the Israeli shelling of a boy playing on the beach. The sonnet is called The Foot and it begins with the line:

I have no words so here are the no words

Often during that dreadful summer I also found that I had no words in the face of such inhuman shelling by the Israeli military of so densely a populated area as the Gaza Strip. But Anne Paq and Ala Qandil in this web documentary found the words and took photographs that tell the stories of ten families whose lives were literally shattered by the Israeli offensive of 2014.

What we hear from Gaza, as from other war-torn areas of the world, are always the numbers and figures; the news is often so grim that we are numbed and feel we can no longer imagine what it’s like to live there. The significance of this project is that it brings us through word and image the intimate lives and tragedies befalling the Gaza families and makes it impossible for us, the readers and viewers, to shield ourselves and not to profoundly feel the experience of those who lived through the Israeli bombardment during that black summer of 2014.

When approaching carnage there are some who may exhibit a pornographic interest in the subject, callousness, lack of empathy or an attitude of voyeurism in their observation of others. This was perhaps true of some of the Israeli soldiers who carried out the bombing, one of whom the author caught smiling right after he shot towards the sight in which she stood. It is certainly not so with the sensitively woven and narrated accounts in this web documentary.

The documentary’s cover photograph was taken with a wide lens from a high point. It is of a young man standing in the midst of a yard that is full of pieces of metal, wood, porcelain, cement and stone. These are the remains of what had once been the factory which he owned and his nearby home, where two of his brothers along with their wives and kids were waiting to be evacuated when they were bombed along with all the walls, furniture, personal belongings, and photographs, all reduced to rubble.

It is tragedy enough to lose one’s home and place of work, and worse still to lose one’s loved ones or one’s entire family. But what is not often remembered is the consequence on the survivor’s life and future of losing all one’s documents: birth certificates, property deeds, school and university certificates and health reports, as happened to many Gaza residents whose houses were bombed. Just imagine the complications that would arise from being unable to submit to any authority proof of your past and the details of your previous existence. It is difficult to imagine how one can manage to build one’s life anew after such immense loss.

And yet in the midst of all this destruction, the young man whose life was shattered stands tall, looking up, seemingly ready to go on, a true representative of the legendary resilience of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. There are also two portraits of Hussein al-Najjar, whose family is amongst the ten shattered lives that are highlighted here. In neither of them does he look at the camera. In one of the photographs his seeing eye (the other is bandaged as is his head) is looking down, introspective, sad, terribly sad, but not seeking sympathy. In the other, his left hand covers his mouth as if he did not want to speak; he wants to be left alone to think his own thoughts, lost in his own world as he tries to figure out how it has come to this, to this horror that humans can bring on other humans who live close by.

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April 27, 2017
One Book, Many Communities: “Returning to Haifa”

Thursday, April 27
Alicia Ashman Library [Map]
733 N. High Point Road, Madison
7:00 – 9:00 pm

“Returning to Haifa” by Ghassan Kanafani
(in the collection Palestine’s Children)

“Returning to Haifa” tells the story of a Palestinian couple forced to flee Haifa in 1948 without their infant son. Returning to Haifa for a visit for the first time in 20 years, they discover that the boy has survived and been raised as a patriotic Israeli by the Jewish couple who moved into their house. Kanafani’s story was made into an Arab-language movie with subtitles, and served as the inspiration for an Iranian-made movie The Survivor and Susan Abulhawa’s novel Mornings in Jenin. More recently, it was made into an Israeli play called Return to Haifa: The Other’s Story.

If you don’t already have Palestine’s Children, contact us by Friday, April 14 to order one from A Room of One’s Own for $16. It is also available from Amazon. You can order a copy of the “Returning to Haifa” story only for $2. Please RSVP for either book or story to Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum [at] gmail.com by Friday, April 14.

April 9 is the 69th anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre. 2017 also marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 70 years since the beginning of the Nakba, and 50 years since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel. We think “Returning to Haifa” is a very appropriate choice for this year’s discussion and we hope that you can join us.


Librarians and Archivists with Palestine invites you to join our annual international reading campaign, One Book, Many Communities held in April 2017, in concurrence with the national Reading Week in Palestine.

This project draws inspiration from the “one book, one town” idea, where people in local communities come together to read and discuss a common book. This campaign is designed to introduce readers to the richness of Palestinian literature, and create a broader awareness and understanding of Palestinian history and the struggle for self-determination.

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