The building where the American school of Gaza is situated is no longer beautiful. The damage can be seen in many areas of the school; in the front door, in the director’s office, in the Cafeteria or in the computer room.
“We have become Iraq”, one of the dustbin men, said while bending down on the floor, trying to clear away the debris which resulted from an explosion that rocked the school early on Saturday morning. The school principal's office only contains torn apart seats and a shelf, with black big spots on its walls. The cafeteria’s chairs are charred black, while the computer room no longer contains any hi-tech equipment.
A great deal of destruction is now the scene in the American School in northern Gaza, a school that has nothing to do with internal Gaza violence, a school that has nothing to do with the various trends throughout the coastal region.
Rebhi Salem, the school’s principal and director general, whose office was blown up early this morning, expressed grievance over what’s happened to his beautiful school. “I received a phone call around 3 o’clock in the morning from the guards, telling me that a large number of masked gunmen stormed the school and arrested the guards, confiscated their cell phones, belongings and keys, then kept them in an isolated room”
“After half an hour, the masked men broke into the administration room and stole a large number of computers, scanners and printers, they spilled fuel then they bombed the director’s office and the Cafeteria. They kept the guards about 400 meters away in an open area”.
The school’s principal confirmed that his school's curriculum is an America one and explained that what they teach at school has nothing to do with any trends within the Palestinian society. "We call this school the International American School, because we believe that the American curriculum is the best in the world and we want our children to be exposed to such a beautiful curriculum. We have nothing to do with the American foreign policy; we have no ties with any American officials. I can not imagine why this happened to our school".
The school’s principal commented on the recent Palestinian security plan by saying “as any ordinary Palestinian civilian, I only hear about security plans, while I see nothing on the ground; I call upon the Palestinian presidency and government to assume their responsibilities”.
Palestinian interior security minister, Hani Qawasmi, launched last week a security plan in the Palestinian territories in a bid to contain internal unrest. Despite such an announcement, a series of bombings and attacks have taken place, the latest of which was the attack on this educational institution.
“A nightmare, really a nightmare”. With these words teachers from the school voiced their reactions to what happened to their workplace. Lobna Al-Rayes, a teacher of 5 year-old pupils, said “we teach children how to live in peace; what happened today is really very bad and a nightmare for us. The school is great, we don’t like terrorists”.
Islam Alkhaldi, teacher of math and science, voiced the same reaction when asked about his feeling amidst such devastation: “It’s like a nightmare; education has nothing to do with politics, nor does it have anything to do with what’s going here in the Gaza Strip. It is all about communication and knowledge, how to make students able to communicate with the external world. It is an American school, but we do teach the Islamic religion here, we do teach social and Arabic books. It is really a nightmare”.
It is a nightmare not only for the American school, but also for the entire Gaza Strip, a nightmare that has not only been realized on Saturday morning, as it has also been rather realized throughout the past four or five months. Almost constantly for the past five months, Gaza has been rocked by various incidents involving murder, robbery, abductions, family feuds and bombings. This has claimed the lives of at least 400 Palestinians, injuring hundreds others and destroying several private and public properties.
Today, just a few hours after the American school was bombed, gunmen attacked a local journalist in the nearby Jabalya refugee camp, sparking one more family feud in the terribly impoverished Gaza. Poverty rates have skyrocketed since an international economic embargo was imposed on the Palestinian government after January 2006’s parliamentary elections. The question here is, will this nightmare comes to end soon or will Gaza see more and more nightmares, despite repeated calls for calm and restraint and even despite a series of security plans, the latest of which failed to prevent one more nightmare on Saturday, 21April, 2007?