Where should the birds fly? Fida and Mona: A Palestine Duet
In 2005 I was working with a journalist. Then we became very good friends. She asked me if I want to be a journalist and my immediate response was NO…who wants to be a journalist flying from one country to another. But a year later, everything changed.
When I left Gaza on a journey to Europe and the USA. Because on the way back me and my family waited at the crossing for 3 weeks and I had to write about what I felt about it. And from there my journalism started.
It wasn’t prepared and it wasn’t something I wanted to do. We suffer together we live together was my first article published by the observer I expected myself to write in Arabic but my fingers were typing English instead of Arabic…years ago I write my friends in English and my fingers got used to writing in English and to write to my friend in London it had to be in English. And she said we have to have it published.
At the crossing I used to get phone calls from friends to ask if I could get back home…no I am stuck at the crossing and people were asking me take pictures, take pictures. We will cover you. The women used to surround me and sit, I would sit in the middle and take pictures, these were the first pictures to come out from the Rafah crossing at the Egyptian border. Crossing…inside the terminal.
December 27th, 2008. I was visiting a friend at the border and suddenly the bombs started landing everywhere. We ran outside the house and we were looking for where is the sound coming from.
We saw the smoke coming from different places. People were confused where to run…but I had to run to the smoke because I had to cover what was going on. I was the first journalist to arrive to the scene. I called my brother on the cell phone. to bring the camera. Mixed feelings. I had to run to the scene and meet him there.
I was the first journalist there. To film people running was awesome. People running. Showed the fear. The reality of what they were feeling. My brother and my friends were pulling me out . my brother was shouting, Fida, the plane the plane. But I would not leave.
My brother was annoyed. I’m saying the plane and she’s filming.
December 28 The next day was even funnier. When the attacks happened my house was shaking. I sleep with a friend from Britain. Everyone was scared but the first thing we woke up, we hugged. But we had to run to the window to see where is the attack happening. But the main door was stuck because of the explosion. My father ran to my camera and held it. He was thinking now I have the camera and she won’t be able to go out. So I jumped from the window and gave a sign to my sister. I was only wearing my trouser and jacket and not the traditional dress. So my father thought I would not go because I wasn’t dressed and I didn’t have my camera. But my sister grabbed the camera and passed it to me through the window. I was in the olive grove. I put on my jelabah and ran to the scene. I was the first journalist to arrive to the scene.
I met Mona at the end of January 2009. The Israeli army cut Gaza into two pieces. I could not go to the north. The army was everywhere.
After the Israel soldiers pulled out I went straight to Gaza city with friends to see what was going on. It was the fresh…I can see the first expressions in people’s faces after the pullout. I was interviewing people and an old woman said to me ‘come I will show you what is going on.’ The woman was leading me and saw her niece Mona, She told Mona…tell her what happened and lead her around.
Mona was ten years old. I thought what is she going to say. But I was shocked.
She described what the first missile did. What the second missile did. Who was hit. Who died from the first missile.
For a child to remember all this…I felt I had to follow her.
Me and Mona have our own weapons. I have my camera. Mona has her markers.
I wanted to know what are the real reactions of the people because the feelings were fresh. The destruction of our house from 2004 taught me this lesson: I need to capture the moment.
Mona: an example for the future.
The more I filmed with her the more I thought she would stand for all of this… when I asked her how many people were killed she said not many…and this was a signal to me to follow her.
She is an example of the future. She never showed hatred. She never said she hated the Israelis/ when she said Zionist occupation, it impressed me because she knew the difference between Jews and Zionists.
The Jews who visited Gaza for the last few years and the peace activists in Israel have made a difference to this child.