Liraz Madmony, a 23-year-old law student from Sderot, addressed the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza in Geneva on behalf of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) on Monday, Jan. 12, 2009 before the vote by the council that condemned Israel's military offensive in Gaza and resolved to send a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinians.
Here is the text of her speech.
Thank you, Mr. President.
I come from Sderot, the city in Israel that for eight years has been terrorized, by 10,000 rockets fired against us from Gaza.
As a law student, I learned -- and I believe -- that all human beings have the right to peace and security.
But when I see today's resolution, I ask: Why is the United Nations ignoring my suffering? When the terrorists committed these 10,000 violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, why was the UN silent?
Are human rights for some, but not others?
The constant assault on Sderot has destroyed our ability to lead a normal life. The warning before each attack gives us only 15 seconds to run for shelter. Fifteen seconds that will decide, life or death.
Mr. President, who will protect our right to life? My family does not have a bomb shelter, so we run to the most protected room, which is the shower.
There is one attack I will never forget. We heard the siren at seven in the morning. We ran to the shower. The rockets fell next to my house. My little brother, who was 14, went to see if anyone needed help. He found a man whose legs were blown off, and a woman blown to pieces.
My youngest brother is six. The rockets have been falling for eight years. He knows no other reality.
Everyone suffers in Sderot. Fathers and mothers are afraid to go to work, creating poverty. Kids are afraid to go to school. I have missed many of my law classes. My friends are afraid to visit. The streets lie empty.
I dream of the hometown that I remember. When the park near my house was filled with happy families and children playing. When people enjoyed life.
I still dream of peace. It will come when the rulers of Gaza choose humanity over hate, when they stop firing on our children while hiding behind their own.
We refuse to grant victory to the terrorists. We choose to live, staying strong with our faith, family and love of country.
Mr. President, who will protect our most basic human rights? My country is now trying its best, and all who love life and desire peace should pray they succeed.
Thank you, Mr. President.