By Amira Hass
Monday, January 5, 2009, near Rajib Mughrabi’s garage on Saladin
Street, in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, a man of about 60 was
pushing an elderly woman in a wheelbarrow. A 15-year-old boy walked at
their side, waving a white cloth. Behind them, some 80 people were
walking northward, their hands in the air. The day before, during
Israel Defense Forces advances under cover of heavy fire, Palestinian
inhabitants began their great flight westward, inward, into the Strip’s
urban centers. If they thought they were in the soldiers’ line of
sight, they waved white flags and raised their hands aloft.
The man pushing
the wheelbarrow was Mouin Joha, his mother was sitting inside and his
son Ibrahim accompanied them bearing the flag.
“On the night
between Saturday and Sunday, between January 3rd and 4th,” Joha
recalled a few weeks later, “there was shelling just all around us.
They were firing from all directions, and inside the house we were
dying of fear. With every shell we thought it was the end. We heard the
stones quaking. We ran from room to room. We lay the children down on
the floor in the innermost room, like fish, one next to the other.”
Joha is an
agricultural engineer who studied in Egypt; for the past 15 years, he
has worked for the Palestinian ministry of agriculture, supervising
strawberry growers. He lived in his unwhitewashed concrete home with
two wives and 10 children. In the now half-destroyed house, he
recounted the events of the morning of January 4: “They started
shooting from the northwest, firing on our home as though we were a
military outpost. The girls were crying in fear. Down below, the ground
was covered with soldiers. They were shouting, ‘Open the door.’” More………………..