My husband, Rida, and I have six children: Anas, 15, Shams, 12, Shahd, 10, Asmaa, 8, Iman, 6, and Muhammad, eight months old. We live in a small apartment in a-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in Gaza City. It has three bedrooms and a living room.
From a very young age, I've known that I was born in a place that’s different from anywhere else in the world. I realized that people feel terror, fear, and sometimes compassion towards this place. It made me feel different from everyone else in the world. Everything I hear in the media about Gaza is so different from reality. We’re human beings and we want to live in peace and security. We don't know that feels like nowadays.
We live in constant fear because of the airstrikes. Even after the wars in 2008 and 2012, the attacks didn’t stop. Posts were still bombed and people were shot. Death has become an inseparable part of our lives, every minute, day and night. You never know when death will take you by surprise. You don't know when the next war will break out and how it will end. You don’t know how many people will pay with their lives and how many homes will be destroyed.
We’ve been through two wars and this is the third. I could be one of the victims, or my husband, or one of my children. As much as it hurts, I’d rather we all died together. I can't bear the thought of my little kids being left orphans. How would they live in this world, where nobody cares about the children of Gaza? Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we lost our home and it became a pile of rubble.
I listen to the news all the time. We stay together in one room all the time, the kids’ room, because it’s the safest. We stay there during the day and sleep there too, on the floor, not in the beds.
I pretend to be strong and not afraid so my children don’t get scared, especially when they hear the missiles and the bombings. I tell them it’s happening far away and that nothing will reach us. They keep asking why people’s houses are being bombed, what those people did, and whether it hurts them. I don’t know how to answer. Once, I told them that God would protect us because he loves us, so my daughter Asmaa asked if God didn’t love the people who died. I didn’t know what to say. I asked them to pray for protection. There’s nothing I can do but pray.
Every time a war ends, we hope it was the last and then there’s another one. Every war is worse than before. This time, the bombings are nonstop, day and night. Most of the people killed were civilians, some of them at home. That means that the bombings are arbitrary and don’t distinguish between civilians and militants. They bomb everything, to the point that no one dares go outside. There’s no transportation. The roads are completely empty. No one leaves home unless it’s for something very urgent.
This morning, I went to the pharmacy to buy baby formula for my little one, Muhammad. There were just a few people in the streets, shopping for bread or other essentials, or parents buying formula and diapers. I used the opportunity to buy my kids some chocolate. They were so happy.
What’s happening to us is a great injustice. They’re punishing a lot of innocent people and no one in the world cares. I hope it ends because we're tired. We can’t take much more of this.
Rima Kasab, 33, a married mother of six, lives in a-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in Gaza City. She gave her testimony by phone to Salma a-Deb'i, B'Tselem's field researcher in Nablus, on 10 July 2014.