Testimony at the UN
UN Human Rights Council, 9th Session
Agenda Item 7: “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”
Debate on Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Report (Resolution S-3/1)
September 18, 2008
Delivered by Dina Cohen
Thank you, Mr. President.
All human life is equal and the all innocent suffering is tragic. You have just head heard one side of the story. Permit me to present the other side, in the context of paragraphs 14 and 18 of the report.
My name is Dina Cohen and I am a young 22 year-old mother who lives in Sderot, Israel. Every night, before falling asleep, I face the same dilemma. What will happen if a rocket falls on my son’s room? This crazy scenario is my daily life.
We have fifteen seconds between the alarm and the explosion. Fifteen seconds to run to the closest shelter. In which direction to go? How to react?
Every day the same thoughts haunt me. Will my son, who is only a year old, be safe at the nursery school during the day? And will I, his mother, be able to protect him at home?
A few months ago, I had an experience that I will never forget. That weekend, the attacks were incessant. And when the alarm sounded again, my husband and I, with our son in our arms, ran to the shelter. This is when the rocket hit the ground, only a few meters only from our home.
The windows exploded, the walls trembled, and suddenly, we heard piercing screams. The leg of our eight-year old neighbour, Osher Twito, was instantly torn off. His eighteen year old brother was also seriously wounded. I will never forget their cries. Every time the alarm sounds, I know that this situation can happen again, or even end more tragically.
We are a city in shock. At school, at home, at the supermarket, 24 hours a day we are ready to run to the shelters or to throw ourselves on the floor as a way of protection.
In Sderot, there are 23,000 of us — 23,000 inhabitants, all running for shelter. At every alert — even when the Kassam rocket falls outside of the city.
In 2005, Israel fully withdrew from the Gaza Strip, in the hope of peace. In return, Palestinians chose the Hamas who, since that time, launched 4,637 rockets targeting innocent civilians, like me and my family. This is the root cause of the problem we are discussing today.
I would like to ask: Does my baby not have the right to be protected? Does he not have the right to life?
Thank you Mr. President.