Vera Macht: Visiting Nasser: What Kind Of A World Is That In Which Blonde Hair Is A Lifesaver
23 February 2011
By Gilad Atzmon
It's stormy, the wind is whipping through the
trees, and scattered rain drops hit us in the face as
we go down the muddy dirt road to Nasser's house. It's
a few hundred yards from the couple of houses around
the cemetery, which form the village of Juhor al-Dik,
to his small house near the border. "Goodbye," shouted
the driver who will pick us up from this remote area
again, and with a look at the path we chose he added
laughingly: "Insha Allah - God willing."
But even under these circumstances, and even in this
weather you cannot help but noticing how beautiful
this area must have been, and actually still is, in
spite of everything. While almost every other place in
Gaza is loud and overcrowded, here's open land and
soothing silence. There are a few olive trees that
have survived the uncountable tank invasions, and a
few new minor ones planted bravely. In between there's
the lush green grass from the winter rain. At least
where it wasn't again plowed up by Israeli bulldozers.
And just as we talk about how peaceful this place
actually is, we become suddenly aware of this calm
being deceptive. On the other side of the barbed wire
border, a jeep of the Israeli military appears. He
stops as he sees us. My two colleagues and I exchange
anxious glances, and without a word we open our hair
and begin to inconspicuously walk in front of our
Palestinian translator. What kind of a world is that
in which blonde hair is a lifesaver.
The jeep drives on, we breathe a sigh of relief. I
cannot even imagine how it is to know one's children
are in this danger every day.
Nasser is happy to see us, he has a good day. We had
previously visited him with a local staff member of
‘Save the Children Palestine', and the psychological
care of his children will start tomorrow. The staff
diagnosed a deep trauma in his children, caused by
watching their mother bleeding to death, and
reinforced by the uncertain living conditions. Their
report further states that "the family suffers from
severe poverty, which has caused a shortage of food,
medicine, clothing and blankets".
We had made two appointments for Nasser with UNRWA.
The first time he was sent away after a long journey,
without anyone talking to him, the second time he was
only told that an employee of UNRWA would visit him.
The worker however didn't even reach the house - the
coordination with the Israeli side failed.
Nasser takes us on his roof and shows us the latest
bullet holes. At the places where the wall is made of
concrete, you see the bullets stuck in the concrete,
at softer parts of the wall they went all the way
through. The walls facing the border look like Swiss
cheese, and you can everywhere see the little nails of
the Flechette bombs sticking out.
Nasser however has to remain near his house, he knows
that once it is empty, it will be flattened by Israeli
bulldozers, along with his land. That would mean to
him to never again be able to stand on its own feet,
he makes his living from this small piece of land. The
refugee camp that is located further away is thus not
an option. And how should he move into the small
village where his children would live right next to
the cemetery. The solution would be a new small house
where now his tent is located, but that is expensive,
and the chance that an organization will cover the
costs is very low. "The wall facing the border will at
any case be made out of double cement," says Nasser,
who won't give up on that dream, and gives us one of
his few smiles.
For despite everything, Nasser has a good day today.
His children will soon get the urgently needed
therapy, and with the first money that has reached us
and therefore him, he has ran electricity to his tent.
That in a place like this it is more important for
frightened children to have light in the night, when
shots are fired, than a few blankets more, that we
didn't even think of. We cannot even imagine what it
is like to grow up as a child in such an environment.
Every evening, the family goes into the tent when it
But still it is light, and we sit in his house,
drinking tea, and Nasser tells us how the staff of
Save the Children had asked his eldest son what he
wants to become when he has grown up. "What am I
supposed to grow up for," responded Alaa, 10 years
old. "My mother is not here. I just want to see my
mother again". But then Nasser stops talking, he jumps
up again, his children are outside. He runs to the
door, like every time he hears something suspicious,
maybe a bang, who knows if it really was just the
wind, or maybe one of his children has called him.
The wind gets stronger, it blows through the leaky
house, we shiver in our jackets. And ask Nasser, who
is back, whether it would help if we stayed a few
nights in the area. "No, no," he replies softly. "It's
too dangerous for you. The soldiers sometimes come
until our house. When they see you, they would arrest
So we go back up the narrow dirt road that runs past
his tent, it's getting dark, and also Nasser and his
children cannot stay in the house much longer. The
tents are flapping in the wind, you can see the two
thin mattresses on the floor. On the wooden wall of
the hastily set up outhouse next to the tent hangs a
brand new white light bulb.
Vera Macht lives and works in Gaza since April 2010.
She is a peace activist and reports about people´s
daily struggle in Gaza
A letter from German activist Gabi Weber:
Dear friends and readers,
Overwhelmed by the incredible wave of helpfulness,
which many of you have been showing in this first week
of our fundraising project, Vera could already take
the first small steps to help Nasser's family after
destiny dealt them such a heavy blow.
In the meantime Nasser could get electricity for a
light bulb which can burn during the night and thus
giving some kind of security to his heavily
Furthermore Vera and her friends succeeded in getting
some psychological help for the family. For details
please read Vera's own report enclosed.
Vera's second article unfortunately witnesses further
dramatic happenings in Gaza's buffer zone.
Once again I would like to appeal to you all tonight,
just to make a small donation (or a big one if you
want and can…). 5 ¤ in Gaza is a lot of money, which
already can make a big difference. We are trying to
collect as much money as possible in order to have the
basis to build just a small house which is a little
bit further off the border. The old house, which you
can see on the enclosed picture, is around 350 m away
from the border. Nasser's wife Naema was killed
directly in front of the door, while she tried to
rescue the baby.
Please join in and help us, and please share this
fundraising appeal as widely as you can!
I would like to thank you with all of my heart, on
behalf of Nasser and his kids, Vera and her friends in