Voices from Gaza: Saleem
Saleem lives in Gaza with his family. He was at school taking exams when the air strikes began on 27 December 2008. There was an explosion near his school and all the students had to take cover.
“I finished the exam at around 10 in the morning and I started to leave my classroom, when suddenly I heard a large explosion near the school. My teacher and another teacher dived onto the floor and I started to be really scared. My classroom is on the second floor. I was afraid to go to the stairs until a teacher came and took all the students to the ground floor.
“Usually my mother comes to pick me up or sends me a taxi. I couldn’t find a taxi so I stayed at the school gate, hearing explosions and watching people running away. I felt that I couldn’t do anything but stand there. I waited there a while, I don’t know how long. Then I saw my mum running to the school to pick me up. We walked home together, about 2½ kilometres. On the way there were a lot of explosions everywhere. I heard explosions from the right and left, and I was really scared. My mum tried to ask me how the exam went, but I had forgotten all about that. I just looked around, looking at the flames and smoke coming from the buildings.
“I was really eager to take my exams before, because they were my first-ever final exams. I threw my school bag in the bathroom because I don’t want to see it. I don’t ever want to go back to school.
“What is going on is something that I don’t understand. I don’t know what is happening and why this is happening. I feel really cold as my mother and father keep opening the windows of the home so the windows don’t smash with the bombs. I feel cold. I keep sneezing all day. When I ask my mother to close the window, they say it’s for my own benefit and they’re sorry. I’ve had no electricity for three days. We have no milk, and no dairy products. There is other food though, at the moment . We have vegetables, but we can’t get fruit in the market anymore, just oranges.
“My message is to anyone to anyone who will listen – just tell me why and what for.”