“Zaher's house was bombed.” On May 12, I received a phone call from NGO activist and Peace Boat partner in East Jerusalem, Rami Naser Eddin. The apartment block where Zaher Sbaih, a humanitarian aid worker in Gaza, lived together with his family had been completely destroyed by Israeli bombing. Zaher has been a guest educator onboard Peace Boat on many occasions, and we have worked together over the years on educational support for children and providing medical supplies to hospitals in Gaza.
The bombing of civilians in Gaza by the Israeli army, in disregard of international law, the United Nations and international public opinion, is something which has occurred repeatedly before. Every time, we see images on television of bloodied children, and the crying mothers and fathers beside them. Each time, worried, I call Zaher. Most of the time I am able to reach him, and in a voice with controlled anger, he would tell me of the situation.
But this time it was different. The house where his family had lived for years was destroyed without a trace. Of course, as long as he has lived in Gaza, he has been prepared that this day might come. But now that it has happened, the shock was more than both he and we could have expected.
“For now, we are fine… I'm at my wife's parents' house with the children.”
But there was no sense of calm in his voice.
“I've been helping families whose homes were destroyed for years, but now, it’s me in that position..” Even living in the same Gaza, the deep despair as a victim of the so-called collective punishment by the Israeli military in Gaza must have been something beyond imagination.
“But," he continued. “I have the encouragement of Peace Boat.” After saying that, he went on to mention the names of many Peace Boat staff he had met on board voyages, or in Gaza. He continued, taking one word at a time: “Everyone at Peace Boat is encouraging us. Because of that support, we have the strength to live here.”
“Can we rebuild Zaher's house?” We received this suggestion from Rami the next day. Until now, Peace Boat has not supported the rebuilding of an individual home before. Moreover, Zaher's family was not the only one who had lost their home. I was initially somewhat hesitant. But, we see Zaher’s face. We see the faces of his children; Sama, Mahmoud, Jori and Mohammad.
As a first step, we can support those whose faces we can see. Isn’t it important to connect and act in the face of endless tragedies, to avoid being defeated by the enemy of helplessness? After much discussion, we began this support campaign. Zaher is a leader in his community. By supporting him, we are supporting his community.
The rebuilding of Zaher's family home will not end the suffering of the Palestinian people. The first step must be for the international community to bring an end to the Israeli occupation, in accordance with United Nations resolutions. Then, the establishment of a Palestinian state must be achieved peacefully. It is then also necessary to work towards building confidence and reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian people, and to support them towards peaceful coexistence.
For Peace Boat, the rebuilding of Zaher’s home is for us a concrete step towards peace for Palestine. With this in mind, we ask you as friends of Zaher, of peace, to support this campaign.
May 20, 2021
Peace Boat Founder and Director
Searching for family items in the rubble of their former home in northern Gaza
Purpose of Donations: Rebuilding the home of Zaher Sbaih in Gaza
Our fundraising goal is 50,000 USD. As building materials need to be procured via Israeli customs and checkpoints, the details of reconstruction plans and estimates will be confirmed as the project is underway. Donations will be sent to Gaza on a regular basis, depending on local conditions.
Method of Donations: Credit card or Japanese postal transfer
You can make a secure online donation from anywhere in the world via our Japan-based credit card processing system. Please enter “Palestine” in the comments box.
Go here to make a credit card donation.
If you are based in Japan, you may find it more convenient to send your donation from a post office. The following are the details required for the transaction.
Payee Name: ピースボート or PEACEBOAT
Payee Account Number: 00180-3-177458
JP Bank, Branch 019
Please enter “Palestine” in the comments box.
The family of Zaher in Gaza