“This Is Your Money”: Palestinian Father Pleads with Americans to Stop Funding Israeli Assault on Gaza

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to Gaza.

PALESTINIAN CHILD: [translated] We did nothing wrong! We did nothing wrong!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: A Palestinian child screams out, “We did nothing wrong! We did nothing wrong!” as Israel bombs the Jabaliya refugee camp for a third day in a row, this time hitting a school run UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. At least 195 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza’s largest refugee camp in a series of devastating Israeli airstrikes in recent days. The U.N. Human Rights Office said in a statement, quote, “we have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes.”

The overall death toll from Israel’s 27-day bombardment has topped 9,000, including 3,700 children. UNICEF is warning children are paying the heaviest price in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Khan Younis, where we’re joined by Fadi Abu Shammalah. He is Just Vision’s outreach associate in Gaza and the executive director of Gaza’s General Union of Cultural Centers. His recent op-ed for The New York Times is headlined “What More Must the Children of Gaza Suffer?”

Fadi, if you can talk to us about the last few weeks through the eyes of your three children — Ali, 13; Karam, 10; and Adam, 5?

FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: Thank you so much, Amy and Nermeen, for having me in this interview in a very critical situation.

I start from, from the heavy airstrike and the shelling over all of Gaza Strip every single minute that we have been bombed. The numbers talked about, 10,000 rockets have been launched over Gaza Strip. More than 12,000 of civilian people have been killed. Hundreds of people, civilian people, are still under rubbles, and [inaudible] are not able to rescue them and pull them out from under the rubbles.

Or should I talk about the entire neighborhoods that’s flattened, the road that is cut off, the water, the severe shortage of water, the severe shortage of food, fuel? We don’t have electricity for more than 20 days now or more. I don’t know, to talk about the UNRWA shelters, that it has around more than half-million of displaced people.

Israel asked us to evacuate the Gaza City and the north, because in there — and they killed, they assassinated, they targeted the convoy of cars while they were traveling and evacuating to the south of Gaza Strip. Should I talk about the live video that’s recorded by and broadcasted by a journalist, Palestinian local journalist? His name is Hassan Saifi. He filmed and recorded a video while the tank launched and bombed a civilian car while they were evacuating to the south.

What should I talk about? That we don’t have bread? That we don’t have water? We don’t have fuel. Nothing. We have only one thing: that we are being killed. There is — and, of course, with a green light with the international community, with the U.S. administration. This is the situation. People are scared. From what? For being killed. Really, we are having now a second Nakba, if you know it. The first one happened in 1948. We feel that it’s another Nakba that we are going through, to go through it.

The most horrible thing for us, that’s the officials. The Israeli officials say that we are human animals. Human animals? Animal humans? I don’t remember exactly. Like, we are treated like animals. You know what happen to animals? They’re slaughtered. So, we are slaughtered now by the Israeli genocide government. This is what’s happening now. Like, they now [inaudible]. This is what is going on here, a genocide. A real genocide and massacre is happening now. Like, in previous wars, we used to have like 10 persons of a family is killed. Now the whole building, the entire neighborhoods is bombed, flattened. It’s happening in Jabaliya for three days, in Nuseirat, in Khan Younis city, in every single mid-Gaza Strip cities. This is what is happening here now.

I’m a father of three kids, as you have mentioned. They think that I’m a hero. I’m not. I’m scared exactly like them. I’m scared of the bombing. I’m scared of not having water. We were lucky that we had yesterday, before yesterday, drinking water. We have been without drinking water for around a day. Like, we don’t have electricity here. Like, we are also lucky that we have two solar panels at the roof of my family. I’m evacuated, by the way. I’m originally living in Gaza City, but I’m already evacuated to my parents. So I’m so lucky that my parents’ home — are living in Khan Younis refugees camp.


FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: I can’t imagine that there’s millions — millions — [inaudible] evacuated their homes. Yeah.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Fadi, you’re speaking now — as you said, the international community, led by the United States, has been supporting Israel absolutely in its operation in Gaza. If you could say, what is your message to Americans as Gaza is under this systemic — systematic military assault that is ongoing? And you’re describing the devastating conditions under which you and all these children, your own, of course, three children — but we’ve just said 3,700 children have been killed in Gaza. What is your message to Americans?

FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: I would say that I’m so, so, so proud of the hundred thousands of Americans who went to demonstrate for us. We are here in Gaza Strip. Believe us, we are following the news, and we feel, like, more comfortable when we’re watching in TVs, like, thousands and hundreds of thousands of American peoples who went to the streets in order to support us, to express the sympathy and in solidarity with the Palestinian people here in Gaza Strip. That makes us more relaxed and comfortable that we are not alone, that there is a lot of people who they still have a live heart. That’s my message to you: Please keep going. We are listening to you. We are following you. I’m sure that no one can stop our voice, our voices for justice. Please keep doing what you’re doing now, because at the end, I’m sure that the U.S. administration will listen to you and stop, or at least [inaudible] the green light that it’s giving to the Israeli government of killing us.

But, please, this is your money. This is the taxes money that you are paying to the American administration. It’s used by buying bombs and rockets and providing it to [inaudible] government. We are being killed by your taxes now. Please say no to your administration, that’s [inaudible] this unlimited, unlimited and ongoing support. The Israeli occupation are checking the humanitarian aid that’s entered Gaza Strip. It’s milk for kids. It’s a medicine. It’s white flour for making bread. So, can you at least make double check this support by the American administration, where it goes, what it’s used for? It would be like our main priority for you guys in the U.S.

I will say it again, and I have mentioned it before, that I was in the U.S. in March, and I met tens of Americans, of people. I was so lucky that I have met them in March. I saw these people who have live hearts, who still have conscience, and they believe in justice. We are depending on these kind of people, who can stay the truth, and they can tell the truth, and they have the courages, and they are brave enough to say to their administration, that “Stop of standing with the massacre’s implementers, with the occupation.”

It’s not about Gaza. It’s not a war between Israel and Hamas anymore. It’s a war between the Israelis, in the most strong forces in the Middle East, against a civilian people. Like, look at West Bank. They don’t have Hamas there. How many one is killed since October 10 — 7? Sorry.

As Palestinians, we are off of the double standards by the international community. And I’m talking about the politicians, about the governments, not the people, because we also followed the great demonstration in the street in the European Union, also hundreds of thousands of people. Also in London, like half-million of British people were in the streets.

Come on, people all over the world know the truth. You can’t hide it. It happened in the past that a lot of media were hiding the truth. But now we have social media. We have Zoom. We have WhatsApp. We have a lot of applications that people in Gaza Strip and in Palestine that can use, and that we can keep telling the truth for what is going on now here in Gaza Strip. No one will stop us. We have a lot of English speakers. We will keep telling the truth loudly. We will not stop. We will keep speaking up, until the international community will respect our willing and self-determination and, of course, stop the horrific genocide that is happening now.

The numbers, again, the numbers of the killed people, it’s not the truth. Yeah, that’s right. It’s not the real number, of course, because we have a lot of missed people. We have a lot of killed people who are still under rubble, the rubbles. Another horrific number, by the way, it didn’t happen before, that the number of the injured people is double of the killed people. It’s horrible. Like, the bombing, they meant to kill the people while they are bombing the civilian peoples here. You can see. Of course, millions and billions of people over the TVs, they can watch. They can judge what is going on here. You can see. Like, come on! It’s entire neighborhoods. Entire neighborhoods, they bombed it. Like, it’s crazy. And, of course, if Israel has no one to tell them that they have to stop, they will keep killing us.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Fadi, I want to ask — 

FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: They only — yes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to ask, Fadi, you — I mean, these attacks are taking place in response to the Hamas attack on October 7th. Obviously, as you’ve said, it’s a genocide that’s taking place. But I want to ask you about the response that Israel has had to nonviolent resistance by Palestinians. You wrote in 2018 a piece called “Why I March in Gaza.” Explain what the response was of Israel to this nonviolent resistance, the Great March of Return.

FADI ABU SHAMMALAH: Oh, that’s [inaudible], by the way. In fact, the Israeli provision is very [inaudible] in killing the Palestinians, even if they are struggling with nonviolence, even if they are staying at their homes, even if they are in West Bank. For example, they kept invading and invading the West Bank cities and towns, and they killed a lot of Palestinians there. And there is — by the way, like couple of months ago or few months ago, there is American old man. He had been detained under hard circumstances until he died. I mean, what this 67-years-old, that man, has done for the Israeli occupation?

Even when Palestinian — and, by the way, the nonviolent struggle, it didn’t happen and started in the 2018 in what we have named and called the Great March. The Palestinians were creative in starting the anniversary [inaudible] in the 1987, when the First Intifada happened, started. What happened there? Even so, the Israeli occupation were killing us, arresting us, shooting at us, demolishing homes. This is the policy of the — an apartheid country. That’s the — I’m so surprised sometimes when someone — as I watch an interview that’s like it’s defending on the Israeli occupation.

Like, we did it in 2018. We were marching. I was there. I participated there, and I was one of the witnesses of the Great Return March. What happened? Snipers. They were, like, [inaudible], if he will shoot the knee of the kids. I know many kids that they have been — their legs were amputated by the snipers. They killed more than 350 in this nonviolent resistance, and also what happened by the U.S. administration at that time. I mean, this [inaudible] eliminate, or I would love, of course, to be stopped. So, whenever and whatever the Palestinians will do, we will — I mean, Israel will keep killing us. It started before 1948, and it will keep going until they have the support from the European, with the U.S. administrations. They will keep killing us, until one day the entire world will believe, like, [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: Fadi Abu Shammalah, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Fadi is Just Vision’s outreach associate in Gaza, executive director of Gaza’s General Union of Cultural Centers, speaking to us from Khan Younis, which has also been bombed repeatedly. We’ll link to your New York Times piece, “What More Must the Children of Gaza Suffer?”

Coming up, the acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates on a recent trip to the occupied West Bank and how it changed him. Stay with us.

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