Bombed three times, 85-year-old Palestinian is refugee again

Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:46am EDT
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By Sylvia Westall

GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian Ibrahim Mohammad al-Toum, 85, sleeps on the floor on a thin mattress in a Gaza schoolroom, displaced for the third time in six years.

A farmer of oranges and lemons, his house in northern Gaza City has been bombed in each of the three Israeli-Palestinian conflicts since 2008. He has no idea why he has been singled out in this way.

"Why did they do it? Why? It is unfair, unfair! I am a peaceful man!" he said, sitting on the mattress in the schoolroom, surrounded by members of his extended family.

At any rate, he will not blame the Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave of 1.8 million people dominated since 2007 by the Islamist Hamas faction.

Israel says Hamas is responsible because it uses residential areas as arms depots and launchpads for rockets, drawing Israeli strikes.

But Toum said it was up to powers outside Gaza to do something to end the conflict, not authorities inside.

"The Arab countries were asleep when Israel struck," Toum said. "The solution is with the Arab countries, with America to put pressure on Israel. I don't want more war, why was there a war?"

Egypt is mediating a new round of indirect peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, but with the Middle East gripped by a series of crises from Libya to Iraq, attention paid by the Arab world to the Palestinian cause is less than it used to be.   Continued...

Ibrahim Mohammad al-Toum, 85, poses in his home that he says has been bombed three times in six years by the Israeli army, in Gaza City, August 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Siegfried Modola