On Saturday the 1st of December 2012 I visited the Al Jazeera Sports Club in Gaza City in order to meet with the disabled athletes who took part in this years London Paralympics. I was dismayed to find that their indoor facilities had been completely destroyed by 2 bombs dropped by an Israeli F16 at approximately 1am on the 19th of November in the final days of Operation Pillar of Cloud. None of the sports and medical support equipment in their gym/training facility is salvagable and the building sustained such heavy damage that it will have to be demolished. Fortunately nobody was killed or injured in the bombing as it happened at night but it was the only facility for disabled sports people in Gaza with 120 disabled members amongst the 400 people who used the facility.
As well as the disabled Al jazeera Club catered for all sections of the community but was also the only sports facility for women and girls with it’s own womens football team amongst other activities. It catered for all ages and the 20-25 staff and trainers tried to give a sense of worth, direction and hope to the most vulnerable in Gaza society for whom life prospects can be extremely bleak. It had achieved impressive success in competative disabled sports with Moemen Al Masry winning Gold in the Javelin event at the last Asian Games and sending 2 competitors Khamis Zaqout, a wheelchair athlete, competing in Discus, Javelin and Shot Put and Mohammed Fannouna who is partially sighted competing in the Long Jump at the London Paralympics. This year no medals but Mohammed won Bronze in 2004.
The training hall was located on the first floor of a building, below it was a Bank which according to the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) made it a legitimate target as it was engaged in handeling the finances of an organization believed to be an enemy. It is extremely difficult for me to accept this logic, these banks are used to fund civil administration by the elected Hamas Government and if it were followed to it’s conclusion that would make banks such as The Bank of England, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland in Britain and The World Trade Centre which housed many such Banks in the USA legitimate targets for those who are at war with our contries and this I can’t accept.
By Theresa in Gaza