Rocket attacks on Israel ‘are not terror, they’re our right,’ Gaza activist says

Palestinians don’t want an ‘absurd ceasefire just like the last times,’ Sarah Salibi, a 21-year-old from Jabalya, tells The Times of Israel

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Smoke rises after an Israeli air force strike in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Bernat Armangue)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air force strike in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Bernat Armangue)

As residents of southern Israel describe the terror of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploding in and around their homes, 21-year-old Palestinian blogger and activist Sarah Salibi described terrifying circumstances in Gaza to the Times of Israel on Monday.

“The situation is terrifying, it has been this way since the beginning of the situation in Gaza six days ago,” Salibi, a resident of Jabalya, said. “They’ve given us no time to relax, explosions are everywhere.”

As the Israeli Air Force carried out its airstrikes against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, she recounted that she and her family cowered together in one room of their house as five missiles struck a building down the street. “We do not have shelters to go to,” she said, and the thud of the explosions was “very, very horrific.” The glass of windows throughout the neighborhood shattered.

“Every few minutes there’s another explosion. We even stopped counting.”

“Everyone in Gaza feels the same way: they are angry, they are sad… Everybody in Gaza wants this to end, because we’re tired of explosions. We can’t sleep.”

When asked whether she thought the IDF was doing its best not to harm civilians, Salibi rejected the possibility. “I don’t think that will ever happen. Israel is always targeting civilians. They claim they don’t… but that’s not true because most of the casualties are civilians. We will never believe that.”

Palestinian medical sources said Monday that Israeli strikes have killed 105 Palestinians, including 53 civilians, and wounded some 840 people, including 225 children.

As for international support for a ceasefire, Salibi said that most Gazans “stopped believing in [the efficacy] of international laws a long time ago, they are not helping Gaza.” One factor she said does protect the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip is “The Resistance” — Hamas and other Palestinian groups. The majority of Gazans support Hamas for defending itself against Israel and for defending the people of Gaza, she said.

Even Hamas’s firing of two rockets at Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, found widespread support among residents of the Gaza Strip, who cheered the news, she said. She added that Jerusalem is occupied by Israel and that resistance is the only way Gazans will ever be able to visit the city she pointed out they have no access to.

When asked by The Times of Israel whether there was concern for the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Jerusalem who could have — and indeed nearly were — harmed by the missiles that missed their mark, she said that “Israelis are the [largest] population in Jerusalem, and the rockets are symbolic because they harm nothing.”

Since the beginning of the Operation Pillar of Defense, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have killed three Israelis, seriously injured two, moderately injured four, lightly injured four, and over 200 have been treated for shock, according to Magen David Adom.

Although Salibi, an English Literature major at Gaza City’s al-Azhar University, said she doesn’t follow the news of al-Aqsa or Hamas on television, she did profess ideological affinity with the Islamist group.

“The only way the Palestinians can liberate occupied Palestine is though armed resistance, we believe, because negotiations… are absurd,” she said. “We don’t believe in negotiations, anyway, and we only believe in armed resistance.”

“The Palestinian people are fed up with Israeli aggression and massacres of civilians and innocents in Gaza.”

She also denied charges by Israeli politicians and the IDF that Hamas uses children as human shields, retorting that Israel uses this accusation to justify killing children.

Regarding rumors of a possible Egyptian-negotiated ceasefire emerging between Israel and Hamas in the coming days, Salibi dismissed the possibility of Hamas or the Palestinians in Gaza accepting “an absurd ceasefire just like the last times.”

“This time I think it will be different.” Gazans want a ceasefire based on guarantees of an end to “the siege of Gaza” and the targeted killings of “political leaders and civilians.”

As for an end to the rocket fire at civilians in southern Israel, Salibi said “we believe this is not called terror attacks. [Palestinians in Gaza] believe these are not terror attacks, they are our right, it is guaranteed by international law.”

“As long as Israel is committing crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Hamas will not stop, of course.”

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