I'm from Gary, Indiana

image: matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

I’m from Gary, Indiana. Gary isn’t known for much, other than its an industrial town just outside Chicago. The economic crisis hit Gary more than a decade ago, long before the financial crisis. Now, it’s like a ghost town. A lot of folks left if they could. A lot of other folks stay with no jobs. For as long back as I can remember I take the train into Chicago every Sunday. Sometimes I go to the big Sunday market, and sometimes I just stand and watch the trains go by.

I've been injured three times

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

My friend, let me tell you, I’ve been injured three times by Israel. I’ve been shot twice and injured by shrapnel once. In the latest war a bullet went into the back of my neck and exited the other side. I spent a few days in the hospital and now I’m fine. Look at my wounds on my neck, my leg and my stomach. Now look around you, house after house completely destroyed. Now look at my face and ask yourself: can they ever defeat us?

You cannot defeat us

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

We are youth. You have made war on us as long as we’ve lived. This is nothing new. Continue to destroy our homes, shoot our children, drop bombs from your planes. You are cowards, and we are youth. As long as we’re alive we will always smile. It must surprise you, but you will learn, one day you will learn that we will never be defeated.

This is my house

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

This is my house. I am ten years old. Every day I used to play in the area around my home. I used to run home after school and throw my bag in the front door to meet my friends and run around in the streets and then go home when I wanted to rest or eat with my family. Why was my home destroyed? What happened to it? Is it something normal that happens to other children outside of Gaza?

I am the resistance

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

I am a farmer. My family’s home lies in the Ezbat Abed Rabu neighborhood in Jabaliya town in the Gaza Strip. Israel invaded our neighborhood and we were forced to flee our homes. When the soldiers came, our neighbors were the first to leave their homes carrying white flags. Three of the neighbors young daughters were shot by a sniper, two were killed. And one remains paralyzed receiving treatment outside of Gaza. After we all left the army placed explosives in all of our homes. When we returned we found our home completely destroyed along with my father’s ambulance and most of our two dozen goats buried beneath the rubble. Four goats survived the bombing and I now take them to graze in the fields surrounding our destroyed home.

I am not a terrorist

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

I am a policeman working for the Hamas government. I work and carry a gun like any policeman in the world. I direct traffic, I help an old man cross the street, I yell at cars to get moving when they stop and block up traffic. On the first day of Israel’s attacks I was in the police station where I work and saw dozens of my friends and colleagues murdered by Israeli aircrafts that flew high above our heads. I want to see order in my country. I want to raise my family in a safe environment, not in the middle of a war zone.