Occupied Lives: I have no future
Mamoun Ahmad Dalloul in front of his destroyed factory in Tel-el-hawa.
Mamoun Ahmad Dalloul (36) lives in Tel-el-hawa with his wife and 9 children. Until recently, he owned a dairy-products factory that produced milk, cheese and yoghurt. Since December 2008, Mamoun has re-built his factory 4 times after it was repeatedly targeted and destroyed by Israel’s forces. On 04 June 2012, at around 1:00, his factory was targeted and destroyed by Israel’s forces for the 5th time.
On the evening of the most recent attack, Mamoun received a call from his brother, who lives adjacent to the factory, informing him that the factory had been destroyed by a missile from an F16: “I rushed to my factory and, when I arrived, there were firefighters and police. The neighbors were panicking and standing in the streets. I was told that a missile had hit the factory and then penetrated 6 or 7 meters into the ground. There was something like an earthquake for 5 minutes, and then the missile exploded and pulled everything into the crater. I do not know what kind of missile it was.”
After 5 attacks on his factory, Mamoun is devastated: “The first time my factory was destroyed was in December 2008 during Operation Cast Lead. The factory was very big and on the ground floor of our residential apartment. I received a call from Israel’s forces, who told me that the building would be targeted in the next 15 minutes. My family and I fled immediately. 3 missiles were fired from an F16 and the building was completely destroyed. In just a few minutes, we lost everything. We were suddenly homeless and I had lost my only source of a livelihood.”
Mamoun and his family were forced to shuffle from one household to another, looking for a place to stay: “We would stay at my parents’ house for a few days then move to my brother-in-law’s house and spend a few more at my brother’s house. My son kept asking why we had no home. Finally, as my wife is a refugee, UNRWA built us a single residential unit. I then rebuilt my factory in Sabra, which is in central Gaza City. It was very small and modest because there was barely any construction material in Gaza, as well as money constraints. 6 months later, it was destroyed by Israel’s forces. I then partnered with someone else and tried to rebuild in a different location, but it was destroyed while we were still constructing.”
A crater made by the missile fired from an F16 on 04 June 2012.
At this point, Mamoun had given up and decided to not rebuild his factory: “The first 2 times, I rebuilt because this is my only source of a livelihood. There are hardly any employment opportunities in Gaza. My factory provided work for 120 individuals, including my 3 brothers and my son. I saw how they were all suffering without work and thought that the factory would at least provide them with the income to support themselves and their families. I had enough after the 3rd attack, but a representative of the European Commission came to visit from Jerusalem and said they would mediate on my behalf. They promised that the factory would not be targeted again. Each time I bought new machines, they came and took pictures and reassured me all was well. I was encouraged by this and started to develop the factory slowly. Then, just like that, it was targeted and destroyed again. They did not keep their promise.”
Each attack has resulted in severe economic hardship for Mamoun and his family: “I have had to borrow money and my savings are almost depleted. I sold 2 pieces of my land to rebuild my factory. I even sold the house that UNRWA gave us to set up the factory and have a source of income. I can no longer sustain the expenses for my family. For a while, people would not even let me rent an apartment in their buildings, because they thought it would be targeted.”
Mamoun feels that his story is one of many that illustrate the suffering of Gaza: “There are people who are displaced and dying. I know what it feels like to be homeless. My children have had to grow up seeing dead people, war and destruction. They no longer even react to airstrikes, because this is what they are used to. My factory was a civilian establishment and I did not plan any resistance activities there. Why would I want to put my family in such danger? I am tired of this destruction. I have no future now. Why can’t we be left to live in peace and stability like other people in the world?”
The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Similarly, under the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 53, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. The destruction of such factories infringes upon human rights principles, including the right to work and right to attain an adequate standard of living contained in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.