After being out of communication for several days, Prof. Said Abdelwahad was finally heard from on Sunday, January 18. Following the most intense night of bombing since the assault began, he and his family fled their apartment for a safer location, where he was unable to communicate via the Internet.
Their neighborhood, Tal Al Hawa, was heavily damaged and much of it destroyed by Israeli tanks as well as air bombardment in the last few days of the attack. As they fled, he was able to see firsthand the catastrophic damage that Israel had inflicted on houses, streets and civil institutions.
These include the Gaza headquarters of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), a secular civil-society umbrella for farmers like the olive oil cooperatives that provide the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project with our Palestinian olive oil.
Prof. Abdelwahed also described his experiences on the eve of the ceasefire on Saturday, January 17. He wrote:
They destroyed two ambulances and dragged and used them as a barricade, together with a large rubbish dumpster. They also destroyed a third ambulance and blocked a side road with it. They burnt a nearby medical drug store of the ministry of health. At night, our noses were stuffed by abnormally suffocating smells of the burning drugs and medicines. However, our fear was more from the white phosphorous bombs that aircraft used against targets in the same street. Also, the army evacuated one of the three buildings of Al-Quds Hospital in the next block to the east of me; they ordered the patients to instantaneously leave and walk off on foot for almost one kilometer when they burnt the whole five-floor building!
We also got a short e-mail from Ghazwa at the Atfaluna Society for the Deaf saying she was safe and promising to write back later, no word on damages to the school.
Barbara Olson is a member of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP). MRSCP will hold a benefit for Gaza relief on Saturday, January 24 from 4-7 p.m. at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, 953 Jenifer St., Madison. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Madison-Rafah Journal to read all of Professor Abdelwahed's emails.