Skyfall (Gazan version) ~ by Ramy Salem

Photo by Anne Paq -ActiveStills

Nov 26, 2012 | Ramy Salem | Gaza

I was spending my last few hours with friends in Oxford before heading back to Gaza. A friend mentioned the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, which was the most important event that week. For those who are not cinema fans, Skyfall (2012) is the twenty-third in the James Bond series of spy films. Without any hesitation, I decided to invest a couple of hours watching the movie. Unfortunately, a very long queue of James Bond lovers had spread down George Street by the time we arrived. After a very brief discussion, however, we all agreed that it would be worth queuing in a desperate attempt to get tickets. Not long after, however, the cinema announced that all the tickets had been sold.

I was the only one who was really disappointed as I was unlikely to be able to watch the film on another occasion. My friends saw it a few days after I left Oxford. However, as a believer, I accepted my bad luck and kept it in my heart. I had not realized that, in the near future, I would be living through the violence to be expected in an action movie.

I arrived Gaza on Saturday 3 November. I had an extremely busy week meeting friends and relatives, unexpectedly attending the wedding ceremony of a cousin, and setting up my plans for job hunting. They were all happy that I had returned home after nearly two years abroad, but I encountered two rather contrary reactions to my return to Gaza. Whereas the emotionally positive feelings of my family were obvious, my friends told me that I had made the wrong decision because over half of the young graduates in Gaza are unemployed. Despite these comments, which were motivated by kindness and concern for my future, I stood firm by my decision in the hope that the coming days would prove all the doubters wrong.

Briefly, and before I take you deeper into my account of what happened, it might be a good idea to give you some glimpses of Gaza. The Gaza Strip is less than 140 square miles in area and occupied by 1.7 million Palestinians, and so one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Gaza has been under a severe blockade since June 2006. This was imposed by Israel when Palestinians democratically elected Hamas, a resistance party, but deemed by Israel and other powerful nations to be a terrorist organisation. Israel has thus imposed “collective punishment” on all Gazans for practising democracy. I am not a member of Hamas, but I can assure you that Hamas has not been given the chance to show the world how its political agenda might be reflected in policies on the ground.

The siege that has been imposed by Israel since June 2006 controls Gaza’s airspace, territorial waters and border crossings (with the exception of Gaza’s short land border with Egypt, which Israel controls indirectly).

Israel has thus made Gaza the largest open-air prison on the planet. Gazans are not allowed to move freely. Various products were forbidden to cross the borders into Gaza, including, for example, coriander, ginger, nutmeg!

Back to my story: two weeks after my return, on Wednesday 14 November, Israel broke an agreed ceasefire by killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. Since then, hundreds of sites have been targeted by Israeli forces. Bombs can be heard all the time from my house. Drones are constantly buzzing over my head. Every day, I am woken by the sound of airstrikes; I eat to sound of F16 fighter-bombers; I go to bed to the sound of warships and artillery bombardments. I feel I am experiencing a life that James Bond never experienced in any of his movies.

Israel has one of the strongest armies on the planet. During the past week, I have experienced all kinds of shelling short of nuclear weapons. Whole families have been wiped out by Israeli bombs. For instance, nine members of the Dalu family – a mother and her four children, a grandmother, great grandmother and two aunts – died when their house was bombed. Three generations of one family were brutally wiped out in a way that has never been seen in a James Bond movie.

I cannot conclude without mentioning the human rights violations against Gazans. For those who are interested, the internet is full of reliable sources to give you a picture of the situation in the Gaza Strip (e.g. Russia Today TV, and Aljazeera).

My Skyfall (Gazan version) is the latest in an apparently endless series of the Israeli acts of terror and aggression against Palestinians, supported by the USA in particular. My Skyfall (Gazan version) is directed by Zionists who are content to violate, with impunity, humanitarian laws and to ignore the call of the public to put an end to the bloodletting.

I end with a quote from Bishop Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Ramy Salem
rsalem ( at ) outlook (dot) com

Follow Ramy at twitter

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