Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Dear Santa, from Basman

Basman Derawi | 21-12-2016


Dear Santa,

Have you heard yet whether you’ll get a permit to enter Gaza this year? I am not Christian, but the joy you bring is universal, and I am very worried you won’t make it. I’ve only been allowed to leave once, and Israel has begun deporting anyone who is outspoken in solidarity with us; in fact, the international director for We Are Not Numbers was banned for 10 years!  

But assuming you find a way to break the siege, I want to make sure you know I have tried very hard to be good this year: I’ve supported my friends. I helped my mom. I learned new things, like how to cook my favorite dishes, makluba and fatoosh.  I didn’t hurt anyone. So, here is my wish list:

1.         A full day of electricity. Right now, we aren’t getting more than three or four hours a day.

2.         Travel. I traveled once to Jordan for medical treatment, and despite my condition, it was one of the most exciting experiences in my entire life.  I’d love to immerse myself in the history, culture and foods of Italy. (I want to eat ravioli in a restaurant in Rome!) It’s not enough to see it on TV or YouTube.

3.         A visit to the West Bank and Jerusalem. That might not sound like much. After all, the West Bank and Jerusalem are just a few miles from here, but we are not allowed to leave Gaza, so they might as well be a million miles away. My family is originally from Beersheba, the largest city in the Negev Desert, but I am not allowed to visit the home of my ancestors.

4.         A job that pays enough to live on. I am very fortunate in that I work in the field I studied—physiotherapy. But because I work for the government, which is starving for funds itself, my salary has been cut by 45 percent. It’s just not enough to support me and my family.

Photo for Middle East Eye by Mohammed Assad

5.         Drinkable water. Only 10 percent of the 2 million or so inhabitants of Gaza can safely drink the water piped into our homes. The other 90 percent—including me—don’t even associate drinking water with the act of turning on a tap. Our water is too saline because of seawater seepage, and too dangerous because of raw sewage or gray-water seeping into the aquifer.

6.         My friend Haytham back. He was hit by an Israeli missile while shopping for food during the 2014 war on Gaza. Many of us want our loved ones back, Santa, but I know you don’t have a magic wand.

7.         Change. It has been 10 years since anything in Gaza has changed. We are still locked in, without enough electricity, with high unemployment, and stuck with an infrastructure that has been destroyed by Israel’s bombs and no material to rebuild it.

Thank you Santa. I’ll be watching the skies on Christmas Eve. Hope to see you soon!

Merry Christmas,


Mentor: Kate Casa
Posted December 20, 2016

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