Times of Oman
Nov 29, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 04:38 PM GMT
Sombre Eid for Palestinians in Oman as death toll mounts
July 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM
For Ismail Qeshta not a day passes by without being informed of the Palestinian struggle and thec death of people he knows personally.–TIMES OF OMAN

Muscat: More than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed since the most recent round of fighting between the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Hamas began on July 8 and every day that passes, Ismail Qeshta prays that his family members aren't among the dead.

While most people in Oman are enjoying their Eid holidays, for Palestinians it's a sombre time as they worry about their friends and families in Gaza. Ismail, a Palestinian who lives in Muscat, has spent the past week at home, watching the news and trying to contact his family to make sure they are still alive.

"In Rafah, they have started to destroy some of my relatives' homes. I think my parents are still ok, but I have lost contact with most of my family. No one is answering," he says.

He doesn't know if they aren't answering because the batteries have died in their phones and they can't recharge them because of the power cuts, or if something worse has happened.

His wife and infant son, Khalid are still at their home in Gaza City, and are hosting other relatives and friends whose homes have been bombed or are being targeted. They are facing food shortages and some are starting to fall sick.

He says his wife is very sad and frustrated, not just because of the barrage of rockets and shelling, but because of a barrage of bad news. When the electricity does briefly work, they turn on the news only to hear about more children dying in playgrounds and schools, Ismail explains.

"I am just watching the news. There is no Eid these days. These kids who were killed in the playground were wearing their Eid clothes," Ismail says.

His son Khalid never got his Eid clothes. In early July, Ismail flew to Egypt planning to visit his family in Gaza but because the Egyptians had closed the Rafah border crossing, he had to return to Muscat. The Eid clothes he had bought for his son are still in his bags.

Shorooq Abu Nasser, whose family is originally from Nablus, in the West Bank, but who now calls Oman home, says she follows the attacks on social media and reliable TV channels, and keeps in touch with a few people in Gaza for constant updates on the situation. She still has family in Palestine who refuse to leave their homes.
"Not a day passed by without us being informed of the Palestinian struggle, and the least we can do is keep them all in our prayers," she says.

Shorooq says she hopes the people can unite and claim their right to live in peace. She adds that it's important to keep in mind that the Palestinians are not at war against Jews, but Israeli Zionists who "refuse to live in peace with most of us."
While Israel wants Hamas to demilitarise and wants the people in Gaza to encourage Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel, Ismail doesn't think this will happen. He says the Palestinians won't ask Hamas to stop resisting because they have nothing left to lose.

"When you have this situation, you feel death is so close. When death is so close, you're not afraid of it because your brother is dead, your father has been killed, your friends are dead. Khalas. The fear of death is not the same when you're living here in Oman, but there every hour someone you know is being killed. You have nothing to lose," he says.

Here in Oman, Shorooq is happy to see that sympathy for Palestine abounds and many people are speaking up about the conflict and showing their support for Gaza.

"The people in Oman, like in any other country, feel the pain of their Palestinian brothers and sisters. We need to tell the Palestinians that we exist and we will support them and their struggle. If they don't have a voice to tell the world how painful it is for them to live under the siege, through proper communication, we will be their voices," Shorooq says.

To get in touch: sarah@timesofoman.com

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