38-year-old father of eight Raed Al Athamna standing in front of his house which was destroyed by the Israeli army during the war on Gaza in January 2009, the second time Raed and his family have been made homeless in just over two years.
Like many residents of Gaza, life has not been easy on Raed Al Athamna. Born the eldest of 13 children, Raed left university at age 19 to help his father run their family taxi business.
Using his high school English, Raed managed to eke out a living for his large family by translating, driving and guiding the many foreign journalists who came to Gaza to cover the strip’s endless woes. Inevitably, Raed ended up seeing more than his fair share of death and destruction, covering some of the biggest (and most saddening) news stories over the years.
Then one day in November 2006, tragedy came knocking at Raed’s door. Early in the morning while Raed and his extended family were asleep in their family compound, the Israeli army fired a volley of artillery shells towards their home, killing 19 members of Raed’s family, including 13 children. Raed and his wife and children survived with some injuries, both physical and mental, his kids having seen their cousins die before their very eyes. The Israeli army eventually admitted responsibility for the massacre, putting it down to a ‘technical malfunction.’
Raed’s family home was totally destroyed in the attack and the family was forced to move in with relatives. After two years of scrimping and saving, Raed managed to scrape together enough money to build a new house.
For many months after the attack, Raed’s children were too scared to go outside. The memory of their dead cousins, uncles and aunties haunted their nights and the kids were terrified at the thought of another attack. Raed tried constantly to cheer them up and assure them that nothing like that would happen again. Eventually the children settled into their new home and the memories of the horror they had witnessed began to fade a little.
But then on the 27th of January 2008, Israel attacked Gaza. One week later, Israeli troops entered Raed’s neighbourhood of Beit Hanoun.
For twelve days and nights, Raed and his seven children and his pregnant wife were trapped in their new house as Israeli soldiers took up positions in the surrounding area.
They sat huddled together in the main bedroom, the children terrified as shots and explosions rang out around them and bullets entered the walls of their house. After three days, they ran out of food and water, surviving on nothing but flour and salty water from the pickled cabbage jars that were in the kitchen.
Finally after 12 days, Raed and his children managed to escape.
When Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza a few days later, Raed returned to his village of Beit Hanoun. His new house had been totally destroyed. Raed’s house (along with his brother’s and father’s houses) had been shelled and then bulldozed by the Israeli army.
Nothing survived. For the second time, in just over two years, Raed has lost his home and everything he has worked so hard for. They now live in tents next to the ruins of their home.
After the first attack in 2006, in which they lost their first house and 19 members of their family, Raed promised his children that they would be safe in their new house. He promised they wouldn’t be attacked again. When they were too scared to go out, he assured them that they would be ok.
And this is what he now can’t live with. The fact that he couldn’t keep that promise.
We are fundraising and collecting donations to help Raed and his eight children find a new home where they will, (Inshallah) feel safe again.
Raed has a bank account in Gaza that money can be transferred directly into from overseas. It normally takes around ten days.
Raed’s Bank account details:
BANK NAME: Bank of Palestine plc – Jabalia Branch
BRANCH NAME: Jabalia
BANK NUMBER: 89
BRANCH NUMBER: 453
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 82152
ACCOUNT NAME: Raid Majed Abed Allah Elathmnah
ACCOUNT HOLDER’S ID NUMBER: 915544837
SWIFT CODE: PALSPS22
Raed’s friend and fellow journalist Sophie McNeill will cover the international transaction fee if you put the money into her Australian Bank Account and then she will transfer it to Raed.
That account is: Sophie McNeill, Commonwealth Bank of Australia
BSB 06 6117
Account number: 0064 3891
Please put ‘For Raed’ in transaction description
If you have any questions regarding how this money will get to Raed, or if you have problems transferring money or if you would like to organize a fundraiser for Raed then please email: reuben_herriman(at)hotmail.com
We have already raised over $3,500 Australian dollars for Raed!
$70,000 will buy a new house! If everyone chips in it’s achievable!