Sami Abu Salem

The Nativity Church Deportees' Right to Return

GAZA, 11 April 2005, (WAFA) — Happiness and fear, hope and despair, eagerness and oppression, dreaming and deep thinking marked the chat between a group of deportees from the Nativity Church seige who were closely watching the TV in their flat, near the Presidential office in Gaza City. Some of them sat on a sofa, others on chairs and the ground, the ringing of mobile phones does not stop. As one of them speaks via mobile, the others stare at him, waiting for new information. “I have not slept for four days. I am thinking of returning home and hugging my mother. I have not seen her for three years,” said Issa Abu Ahoor, 39, from Bethlehem. 

Horsemanship in Gaza: Palestinian dreams and Israeli obstacles

GAZA, 14 April 2005, (WAFA) — The neighing of horses and the chirping of sparrows break the silence covering the Palestine Horsemanship Club (PHC) along the Gaza shore. Broken tiles cover the roof of the winter hall while cracks mark the walls. Silence and gloom have replaced the cheers of the crowds that used to be heard during the local competitive horse riding championships. Sami Abu Salem reports for WAFA from occupied Gaza. 

The Vision of a Blind Woman

Amani Al-Hissi, a 25-year-old Palestinian blind woman from the poor refugee camp of Al-Shati (“The Beach”) in Gaza, studies Arabic literature, plays music, works as a radio presenter and depends on “help your self” as her strategy for managing the details of her own life. Ms. Al-Hissi, was shot by an Israeli soldier while she was six years old. One week after the shooting, she lost sight in one eye. Four years later, she completely lost her eyesight. WAFA reporter Sami Abu Salem writes from Gaza on the occasion of International Women’s Day. 

Life stops at coastal road block

WAFA Thousands of Palestinian students, merchants, patients and drivers were forced to take cover behind trucks, vehicles and carts on the blocked Gaza coastal road when Israeli soldiers stationed at the watchtowers of Nitzarim colony opened fired on them as they were passing. I took cover behind a truck along with two university students. “Hey, hey, you are behind a fuel truck, leave now!” a cameraman shouted at us. We were shocked and fled from our spot behind the truck. The cameraman was warned by a hawker to hide his camera, as Israeli soldiers in the watchtowers target journalists. Taking his camera, he hid behind a truck carrying panels of wood. 

Guava in Jabalia: First Bite, Last Breath

The seeds of guava were still between 13-year-old Saber Assaliya’s lips when an Israeli tank shot him in the waist. The boy was playing in a nearby orchard at the southern tip of the Jabalia Refugee Camp, in the north of Gaza. Saber’s father Ibrahim recalls, “After eight years [of attempting to have children], Saber’s first scream filled the hospital. I was extremely happy; I distributed sweets for all medical staff and patients in the hospital and the to those in the neighbourhood. I followed all the details of raising Saber. And in just seconds, the Israeli tanks turned him into a memory.” 

Jabalia: "Hamdulillah Assalamah"

WAFA “Hamdulillah Assalama” (“Praise God for your safety”), the residents of Jabalia Refugee Camp repeat whenever they meet each other in the dusty roads and lanes of the camp. Groups of people are paying condolence visits at dozens of condolence tents scattered in the camp. The scene is eerily similar to theway that people here celebrate and congratulate each other on major religious holidays, such as Eid al-Fitr. Sand mixes with the ash of tyres scattered along the roads of the camp. Every night, the residents burn the tyres in order to create a shield of smoke thick enough to jam the signals of the Israeli drones crisscrossing the sky. Sami Abu Salem reports from northern Gaza. 

Killing in Jabaliya, "As Usual"

This morning I was at the kitchen making breakfast for my mother and myself at my apartment near al-Kholafa’ Mosque in Jabaliya Refugee Camp (population 106,000), north of Gaza. The provocative buzz of Israeli drones have not ceased since more than ten days hovering over the camp. I was carrying the teapot when an unprecedented explosion shook our quarter. The glass of the windows smashed, my mum shouted at me but I did not reply as I was frozen and carefully listening to the cries of the neighborhood children. 

Girl's life ended by Israeli bullets

On September 7, Raghda al-Assar was at school in the Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. After less than hour, she was receiving medical treatment in emergency room of Nasser Hospital after having been struck by Israeli bullets in her head while she was in her classroom listening to her English teacher. Raghda died Wednesday of the critical wounds she sustained two weeks ago. On September 7, Raghda was one of hundreds of Palestinian schoolgirls, dressed in crisp striped school uniforms, crowding the streets of Khan Yunis refugee camp on their way to school. Sami Abu Salem reports from Khan Younis. 

Torture of Palestinians in the Heart of Romantic Landscape

Just after leaving the city of Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City, our eyes were caught by the beautiful neighbourhood of Abu Holi. Palm trees, olive and citrus orchards and green houses flank the road. A shepherd stands with some sheep between the trees, where a low, rusty metal fence surrounds a calf and a cow chewing leaves. In the heart of such a romantic view, thousands of Palestinian civilians face daily torture at the two sides of Abu Holi checkpoint, which divides the Gaza Strip into two parts. Hundreds of Palestinian taxis, trucks and civilian vehicles snake along the dug-up sandy road of the ill-fated Abu Holi. Watchtowers covered with military-green nets border the checkpoint, where the crying of children is escalating along with the endless queue of cars. Sami Abu Salem writes from Gaza.