How I saved my family
In May 2002, I was 12 years old. One night at 2:00 in the morning, I was sleeping warmly in my bed under a soft blank likely dreaming about good or bad things. Suddenly I was woken up by a loud voice on a megaphone outside my window saying in broken Arabic that all the people who are living in this house are to leave as soon as they can if they care about their lives. The voice woke me up with feelings of fear that made me tremble. Thinking in my bed, I doubted that they meant us -my family and my house- but I knew that this warning was coming from the Israeli army. I remember that the soldier repeated this warning three times before they began shooting directly at my bedroom window. Then the situation became obvious and clear- the army is targeting us. I left my warm bed hurrying to my mother. She hugged me tightly with cries. She didn't know what to do. There was no man at home because my father had left us some months ago and we were only my mother and young children in the house. My mother said "they will keep shooting until they leave us, they must know after a while that they are targeting the wrong house". They kept shooting and shooting. The bullets started to come closer to us. Then I stood up and told my mother that I will go out to face them. I hurried outside to speak to them and I don't remember feeling fear less than when I was between my mother arms. I wanted to do something and not wait until the entire family was killed. I opened the door and was faced with a group of Israeli soldiers. I remember that four soldiers beat me and tied my hands behind my back. They took me to the officer who was called Yossi. The officer asked me my name and then he told me" If you want your family to survive, you have 15 minutes to get them out. After 15 minutes it will be your fault whatever happens to them." I was shocked by what he said and I realized how dangerous the situation was. I ran back to the house asking my mother, sisters and brothers to take the chance to survive before the 15 minutes ends. Each of us looked for something to wear and we all approached the officer. The officer spoke with me and said "Hamze, we are going to destroy the house and your mother and your family will be homeless after 7 am.” I shouted at him asking WHY?! He responded "this house is full of terrorists and this is your fault to hold terrorist in your home, you should pay the price." I told him that this is not right and he must check the house first since we didn't have any one in the house accept my family. He responded "I will not risk myself or my soldiers since our information is very accurate. We will kill the terrorists from outside the home." He ordered his soldiers to start shooting heavily at the house. At that moment he told me to go and sit by the walls of house so the glass from the windows and stones from the building would fall on my head. They kept shooting for hours, while my mother and sisters were crying. My mother begged the officer to stop but he laughed and refused to listen. At around 6:30AM, the officer said "the terrorists must be killed by now" so he ordered the soldiers to stop shooting and go into the house. They checked the house and they found nothing. Finding nothing made them more angry so they started shooting again but from inside the house until they destroyed the inside of the house as well. They left the house in a horrible situation. After a while the officer told my mother that they had made a mistake and he apologized and the soldiers left.
Things didn't end with the officer’s apology. The house was destroyed. My Father was far away and we didn't have the money to rebuild. Our neighbors offered us to stay in their house until we rebuilt ours. My mother, in her pride, refused their offer and insisted that she will never sleep out of her house. We lived in the destroyed house for one year until we managed to rebuild again. In that year we faced the bitter cold of winter and the heat of summer. We had to sell our car and my mother ‘s jewelry and spend less on food in order to afford to rebuild our home.
The house was rebuilt again and we started new life. I can claim that I will never forget what happened until I die but I forgave those who did this to us because I don't want this to be repeated any more to us or anyone who lives in this land. The cycle of violence must end. This is my wish and lesson from what happened. This has helped me work day and night to build the peace inside each of us as human beings and build trust between Israelis and Palestinians so one day we can all recover from what has happened towards reconciliation and a better future.