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In Gaza, war clouds teen's dream of peace
Published Sunday 13/07/2014 (updated) 16/07/2014 10:47
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Palestinians inspect the site of an early morning Israeli airstrike in the
al-Tuffah area on July 13, 2011 (AFP/File Mohammed Abed)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- In 2012, Mohamed Abu Aisha took part in a US peace camp with Israelis, but now he wonders if some of them are flying the warplanes overhead in Gaza.

Standing in the Tuffah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, the 17-year-old stares at the devastation left by an Israeli strike in which 18 people were killed on Saturday night.

The target appears to have been a Hamas police chief, but the missile killed a significant number of his extended family, with two rockets slamming into the home of a cousin he was visiting shortly after Ramadan prayers.

"It is a disaster," says Abu Aisha, who lives two streets away.

"The blast was so big that our house shook. All the dust and debris came in through our windows -- we can't close them because otherwise they shatter when there are air strikes."

Abu Aisha just graduated from Gaza's American International School and is eager to show off his fluent English.

He honed his language skills during two months in the United States in 2012, when he took part in a peacemaker's program with Israelis and others living in conflict zones, called Seeds of Peace.

"It's a program that brings people living in conflict together and allows them to talk to each other," he says.

It was the first time he had talked at length to Israelis, and he formed cautious acquaintances with some, as he tried to explain things from the Palestinian point of view.

He stayed in touch with them, but recently discovered that some have begun their mandatory military service.

"These people are in the army, maybe some are in the airforce," he says.

"I look around and I wonder if the people I met are now the ones that are bombing us."

A step too far

Since the Israeli air strikes began on Tuesday, Abu Aisha has stopped contacting the Israelis he met.

And he sighs in frustration when he talks about those who are now in the military.

"I am disappointed in them. I expected and I hoped that they might refuse to enter the army, but now they are part of that criminal force," he says.

All around him is the detritus of the family killed in Saturday's strike, one of more than 1,300 Israeli raids that have killed 166 people in just six days.

The blast leveled the building and sheared the facade off a neighboring structure, exposing a kitchen and a fridge with its door ripped off, full of food and drink.

A nearby UN school also bears scars from the strike -- all the windows blown out and a large hole blasted through its outside wall.

On the ground are children's notebooks, a woman's high-heeled shoe, a purple nightgown, even an x-ray.

On a nearby piece of land, 17 graves have been dug to receive some of those killed in the blast.

A photo of the family patriarch Majed al-Batsh lies on a yellow blanket covering some of his body parts, as well as parts belonging to other family members.

The dead are buried in chaos, with mourners crowding around the row of graves.

One body is lowered in, then removed, rotated, and lowered in again to ensure it is facing the right direction.

'I want to help'

Standing near the remains of one of the rockets that hit the Batsh house, Abu Aisha says he is hoping to become a doctor.

He has finished high school and now hopes to travel to Turkey to study medicine.

"The level of medicine here and the medical knowledge is so low," he says.

"So I want to study it so I can help my country."

With the prospect of peace looking increasingly like a pipedream, Abu Aisha can imagine himself one day working in Gaza City's Shifa hospital, treating those hurt in future conflicts.

"I expect the coming decades will be full of wars here, so we will need people who can help people," he said.

"That is what I want to do."
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1 ) Tibi / Tubas
14/07/2014 00:28
Hamas rules Gaza, so Hamas' will is done, and It does Not matter if teens dream of peace !!

2 ) Mel / USA
14/07/2014 16:56
Zionism is there to SHATTER your dreams & HUMAN RIGHTS Abu Aisha,I am sorry to say! You are NOT Jewish or Zionist &Zionism has LONG-PAST sown its seeds of HATRED into its"Jewish State"citizens soil/ed souls.After 67-80yrs of Zionist hatred,bigotry,racism &colonialism,even COMPASSIONATE Jews are SUBJUGATED by extremist Zionism.Israel is not Jewish!It's Zionist &even PUNISHES,INSULTS,HUMILIATES its own Jews who resist Zionism!Why do you think so many 3rd generation Israeli Jews are LEAVING?

3 ) Dan webber / USA
14/07/2014 20:35
A very sad state of affairs..Abu...you are a good boy ,try to stay strong and your heart pure..don't fall into the trap of hate and revenge,keep your dream alive,I am sure you can find your way to a medical education ,and be a proud doctor helping his people..this war will end.over time hopefully the insane Hamas leaders will out wear their welcome,saner heads will come to power....some kind of peace can be found and your children will grow up fat happy and clear of hate...

4 ) Outlier / USA
15/07/2014 23:12
Hamas and only Hamas deserves credit for clouding all Gazans' dreams of peace. Simply put, Hamas does not deserve the support of Gazans.

5 ) david / israel
15/07/2014 23:30
how is it that the level of medical knowledge is so low in a place that seems to produce so much talent in rocket engineering and tunnel technology? dear Aisha, I wish you success in your medical studies. and may your contribution to your people be not just in the practice of medicine, but in changing their priorities to favor medical science over rocket production.

6 ) Randi / NJ
17/07/2014 13:40
Ah but Mel, this one says: I shall and will overcome.

7 ) Face the Facts / Canada
20/07/2014 16:39
Billions of dollars of international aid to Gaza could have resulted in all the advanced technologies with high level medical services. Instead Hamas stole that money to build terror tunnels and invest in advance war technologies. Very sad indeed.
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