The story of a Palestinian grandmother

The story of a Palestinian grandmother, recounted to me. Is this justifiable for so called ‘security reasons’?

Rita Giacaman


On Thursday, March 29th, 2002 , I knew that there will be re-occupation, and because we live right next to the governorate of Ramallah, where our president resides, I decided to move with my daughter and my granddaughter to my other daughter’s house. This was a house that we thought was safer, as it is located in the middle of Ramallah, and situated inside the Anglican Episcopalian compound . Little did we know then that the Israeli army would reach us there. And so we moved with very little belongings.

We spent seven terrible days there, no electricity for much of the time, and no water for 7 whole days and night, as well as much shooting, bombing and invasion of offices and homes nearby, as well as the search of our home by the Israeli army.

When they lifted the curfew for 3 hours on Friday, April 4th, I decided to go to my house to pick up a few more items, especially clothes. We dispatched. One of my daughters went for milk, and another stood for three hours in line to get some bread and very basic provisions. As I walked, I heard my daughter call me. She wanted to make sure that I had the key to the house. I assured her I did. As it turned out the last thing I needed was a key.

I headed to our house walking, as there was no other way to get there. You know, at my age and with my illness, it is not so easy. Still I was determined, but the army, even with the lifting of the curfew, would not allow me to get near my house. So I began to go through the kitchen gardens and backyards of homes, if you can imagine, until I got to my house.

The first thing I saw was a chained backdoor. The neighbor came out and told me that she had chained it after the Israeli army left as it could no longer close properly. They had stayed there for several days she said. I went to the front door and found it totally destroyed, with our veranda glass all shattered. I went back and went in through the backdoor with my neighbor‚s help and went into the stairwell. I just could not believe my eyes, the door to our apartment was sitting out there in a slanted odd position, and part of the wall was sitting out with it. I was aghast. I went into the apartment and again, I could not believe my eyes, there were things thrown everywhere, with many crumbs on the floor, rotten leftover apples, Matzos and other things I cannot describe.

I went to the kitchen, and all was out, much was broken. I went to the bathroom and it was hell. They had apparently used it in ways as if they had never used a bathroom before. And then I went to my granddaughter’s room and found all her clothes, toys and stuffed animals in a state, all on the floor and I could not take it any more and started crying. I also decided to leave. As I left, I cried even more as I saw our family picture all over the place: our wedding pictures, the children, birthdays, all torn or thrown on the floor like this. I rushed out with tears in my eyes and back again through kitchen gardens and backyards thinking‚ could this be real?