Sunday, December 18, 2005

The banshees strike again

I have come to learn to fear the night. I am a grown adult. I am a mother. But yesterday, I am not ashamed to say, I had my mother sleep with me in bed, and we clung to each other like frightened children as Israeli F-16s once again shook the earth we live on.

Exactly 1 second before the dawn call to prayer, it began. My head hurts thinking about them now, so I'm going to make this brief. I have severe migranes now that won't go away. Yesterday night I developed cramps and nausea. If there was ever a way to expose an entire civlian population to torture, this is it.

These shock waves-these bomb simulations-come out of no where. At night before we slept, i heard the swoops of F-16s in the distance, but I knew that meant there would be no immediate sonic booms, since you cannot hear the planes before they bomb (they are going faster than the speed of sound). That is what is frightening. There is deafening silence, especially in the middle of the night, then BOOOM, your entire house shakes like a mega ton bomb was dropped on it.

Over and over again. Then it stops, and you think that's the end of it. There are no air raid sirens to signal the beginning or end of the raid, as there was in Lebanon, as there is in Sderot, as there was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia where I lived during the Gulf War.

It is like a million sledge-hammer carrying banshees hanging over your shoulder, ready to strike anytime.

39 Comments:

Blogger Living Away said...

Oh my God! I would like to say something to comfort you, but I cannot find words to that task. I’m so so sorry!
Laila, if there is anything I can do to cheer you up, please let me know. I meant, anything!
God bless your heart!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous DeafandDumb said...

Surely the EU could invest part of the multi million Euro that go to the PA yearly into Air raid sirens ? a lot more effective then the Euro-Copps http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4481072.stm.
Tell you what - perhpas the EU will also sell Israel a few quiet rockets, so that Gazans could sleep peacefully ?

Seriously - I don't see the point of this petrol wasting excerise. It doesn't stop terrorists, and definitely won't encourage anyone to inform about them.

Maybe Israel should rebuild Gush Katif - no more supersonic booms, as they would affect the Israelis as much as the Arabs.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

I seem to recall the Gazans dancing in the street as Saddam launched scud after scud at the Israeli women and children.

I don't recall the Gazans marching against Saddam.

I do recall the Gazans supporting Sadams rape of Kuwait.

I don't know why we are using sonic booms. But I do know they don't kill anyone.

As for encouraging collaberators, don't you know that Gazans murder those they suspect of aiding the Israelis?

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those sonic booms are not carried out in my name - and I'm against the use of them. But honestly speaking: why do I never hear Palestinians speaking up against the people that carry out (or try to carry out almost every day - in your name - I may add) terrorattacks on Israeli's, and thereby cause the IDF to act? Why??? We're not people, Laila?

Be well,
Tsedek
Ramat Gan
Israel

3:37 AM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

It does not appear that most palestinians consider you to be people. After all, their holy men tell them you are descended from pigs and apes.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Haitham Sabbah said...

Ibrahamav , I will not go into argument with you, but just one simple question. Do you conceder us (Palestinians) to be PEOPLE?

If you do, and I hope you do, then are you trying to justify the use of terror by your army as retaliation to a terror act by a Palestinian suicide bomber? You see, your type of argument is nothing but fanning flames. What you are saying here is that, “Palestinians deserve all this.” Then you have to keep in your mind that in such cases, if you gave yourself the right to attack innocent civilians in such a manner, then how do you expect a Palestinian to condemn attacks on Israeli civilians? It is Tit for Tat. You give the right to yourself to terror Palestinian civilians; Palestinians will claim the same right. Of course that IF you conceder Palestinians to be PEOPLE!

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Haitham Sabbah said...

Dear Um Yousuf,

It is really pain to hear what our people are going through. I hope I can do anything to help.

Here is more horrifying news to cheer-up the warmonger about the sonic bombs: Four Palestinians die due to sound-bombs and shelling in Gaza Strip. Some 77 people, especially children and elderly women, rushed to the hospital after the attack, suffering from nausea and confusion, some of whom were transferred to a specialist care centre for treatment of the nervous system. Some of the more serious cases involved internal bleeding in the brain and five pregnant women lost their babies as a direct result of the sound-bomb attack - a new Israeli tactic known to traumatize and induce miscarriages.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Umar said...

I suggest you enable some kind of a monitoring mechanism that will disallow commenting from those who have hostile agendas.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Why would you want to disallow the comments of those who believe it is justifiable to kill Jews?

I see you've stopped blaming miscarriages on checkpoints and now blame sonic booms. Sounds like you have a hostile agenda.

Yes, I consider the palestinian people a people, I do not consider them the descendents of apes and pigs as your religious leaders tell you about the Jews.

But you seem to have no idea what terrorism is, so the rest of your question is meaningless.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Haitham said...

Ibrahamav,

Forget the religious leaders, consider me as an atheist, ok?

So I don't know what terrorism is. I got your point. Terrorism is Palestinians killing Israelis. But Israelis killing Palestinians is NOT terrorism. That is what you are trying to advocate? Otherwise, why don't you fill us what terrorism is?

I can sense the smart answer coming. Although, the entire world failed so far to define the term (for political reasons of course).

But here is my humble (less smart) definition (practicing my right to believe in things as I like, just like you practice the same right). Terrorism is the intentional use of, or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets.

So, do the Israeli raids fall under terror act? Or was these sonic booms and death and target results is part of an entertainment party?

I'm expecting a just and fair answer from you.

PS. I will respect um Yousuf's decision if she see that she will moderate comments, or even delete mine. After all this is her blog, not a public forum.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous lv said...

i checked several media - bbc, reuters, afp, ap - none of them writes about theses sonic booms. all stories tell that israeli army bombed sites used by militants to launch rockets into Israeli territory. that there are no casulties, but no word of sonic booms. it's kind of strange.

7:34 PM  
Blogger lisoosh said...

Out of curiousity Laila - do you or anyone you know have a video camera? If they are every night you should be able to get a tape of one or two. Your description is very powerful and backed up by video evidence you should be able to get the attention of a major media source. I'm pretty sure most Israelis are not aware of how bad this is and evidence would help to raise public awareness and hopefully put pressure on the government to stop.

Just a practical suggestion.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it sad that you see the world in such simplistic terms.
Palestinian = innocent, impotent, powerless, good, victim
Israeli = murder, powerful, evil, torturer

You see I understand your anger over the sonic booms.

Do you understand that:
Israelis cannot allow people to fire rockets at Israel from Gaza on a daily basis?
Those of us Israelis who are working for a pullback from all of the occupied territory don't understand why the Palestinians of Gaza can't help us win over the Israeli people by not using land volountarily vacated by the Israeli government to launch attacks against Israel?
Do you understand that we choose sonic booms when we could bomb your cities but we don't want to kill the innocent?
Do you deny us the right of self-defence?

What upsets me is that I don't think there can be any dialogue between us because whilst I understand your pain and hear your cries of anguish ( I read your blog regularly) I don't think you are capable of understanding me.
(Do you read any Israeli mainstream blogs?)

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your pain and hear your cries of anguish . . . I don't think you are capable of understanding me.

That's what I think as well. Unfortunately.

Tsedek
Israel

2:26 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan Edelstein said...

Laila, I hope you have a quiet sleep tonight. There are some Israeli policies I defend and others I oppose, but this one is indefensible.

In addition to what Lisoosh said about making a video, have you thought of submitting this post - exactly as you wrote it - as an op-ed piece to one of the Israeli dailies? I doubt that many Israelis know how bad the sonic booms really are - I certainly didn't until I read your essays about them.

Also, have you considered contacting the parties in the Israeli High Court petition against the sonic booms (the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme is one of the petitioners) and offering to testify? The court often rules against the government in these situations, and has done so especially during the past two years, so your testimony might make a difference. I'd like to help you stop this if there's a way.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

hiatham - Your initial statement was merely racist. Don't expect an answer when you start with racist comments.

The entire world has failed to define terrorism because the Arab world refuses to acknowledge it. They want to ensure that the actions of palestinians and Iraqis can not be defined as terrorism.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Understanding and agreeing are two vastly different things. Notice-unlike many of the Israeli blogs I have visited (and yes, I read them) I do not "censor" or "block" or even disallow comments I do not agree with. You have a right to your point of view.

Do I understand that Israelis cannot allow people to fire rockets at Israel from Gaza on a daily basis? Yes-but do I think the answer is with sonic booms? Or mass house demolitions? Or closing border crossings and sealing off the territories? most certainly not. I do not understand how the arguably most sophisticated army in the world can continue to makes hollow excuses like "we have to stop the terrorists" or my personal favorite (on which I've been denied entry to the West Bank 3 times) "Its for security reasons" everytime civlians are killed, maimed, or endangered in Gaza (see: Rafah;) or it can't find any other rational excuse.

Believe me-if the Israeli army can spot an armed gunman in narrow refugee camp alleyways with their drones and liquidate him, they can stop them from firing qassams. If they can't-how do the expect the same of the dysfunctional PA?

Sonic booms are morally wrong, inhumane, and irrelevant of whether they are considered the "less harmful", are collective punishment. Further, if sonic booms were so benign, why did the Israeli army not choose to exercise this option when the dear old settlers were still here?

"Those of us Israelis who are working for a pullback from all of the occupied territory don't understand why the Palestinians of Gaza can't help us win over the Israeli people by not using land volountarily vacated by the Israeli government to launch attacks against Israel?"

You do realize hat there are 1.5 million palestinains in gaza, right? and that those firing rockets into Israel at the current point consist of say, less than 1%? I don't think you understand the complexity of Palestinain factionalism and political life.

I shoudl also add, here is another point of difference: palestinains don't view the "disengagement" as a concession; but rather a requirement under international law.

"Do you deny us the right of self-defence?" Turn the tables around and ask yourself the same question. If a qassam is fired into Israel, people expect revenge and retribution. If a Palestinian civlian is killed, the army calls it collateral damage. Revenge and retribution, in this case, becomes terrorism.

Why are Palestinian lives worth less than Israeli lives?

Why are you so quick to label Palestinians as terrorists, but not the actions of your government as terrorism?

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Hanan Cohen said...

This is what blogs are for. Telling a personal story of one event.

Laila had suffered. She tells her story of a specific night.

If you can write a comment in Lailas' blog, you can write your own blog telling how and when you suffer. In the comments of Lailas' blog, point to your blog that tells your story. Then, there will be two individuals sharing two personal stories.

No need to "represent" anyone here. Just tell the story.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

I appreciate the fact that unlike so many Palestinian blogs, such as peacepalestine and umkahlil, you do not censor the truth. Let me thank you for that.

I do not consider a palestinian to be a terrorist, yet there are many palestinian terrorists.

A man shoots two tellers during a robbery. The police arrive. The man places two innocent people in front of him and starts shooting the police and people in the area. The police shoot, killing the man and the two civillians. Do the families of the two civillians have the right to shoot rockets into the nearby town as a right of retrobution?

Your Man sent out a suicide bomber who killed 17 people on a bus. Muslim, Christian and Jew. The IDF found your Man and blew out his apartment and killed him. He had his infant child in his room. The child was also killed.

Does his family have the right to fire rockets into Israeli apartment buildings as retrobution?

I don't know why you think Jews do not hold ALL life to be sacred. By the Palestinian example of sending out their children to be suicide bombers, i don't know why you'd think that Arab muslims would consider any life except their own to be sacred.

7:08 PM  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

The United States did this over Nicaragua in the 1980s when our rulers didn't like the Sandinista government. The sonic booms were particularly frequent when Nicaragua was about to hold elections in 1984. Nicaraguans called the plane the "Pajaro Negro."

The powerful will do what they can to the weak. And blame the weak, as so many of your commenters do.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

When those who are weaker attempt to massacre the stronger, and then get riled when the stronger react, you wonder why people need to be taught the word Chutzpah.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Even better is when the stronger issues warnings on how it will crush the weaker in days for merely existing, and then the stronger get wiped out in a pre-emtive strike... What irony.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous DeafandDumb said...

Laila said a few important things:

Believe me-if the Israeli army can spot an armed gunman in narrow refugee camp alleyways with their drones and liquidate him, they can stop them from firing qassams.

1. Israel can stop the qassams but doesn't do it. instead Israel spends more money on jet fuel and achieves less military success. Why would Israel do that ?

I don't think you understand the complexity of Palestinain factionalism and political life.

2. Palestinian factionalism seems to be a constant feature of Palestinian life, from 1936, thru 1948 and the two intifadas. As an oursider (Irish) it seems very much like the factionalism in Lebanon and Congo. both are post colonial countries still struggling to define a national identity. I would love to hear the insider point of view about this (ie - what is the Faction Laila finds the closest to her).

3. It is quite clear that the PA is not very effective. Do you think it will be replaced by the Hamas ?

Wishing us all a quiet night

11:58 PM  
Anonymous jamal said...

It is bad what you must go through. Hopefully one day it will change.

Opinionated Voice

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or closing border crossings and sealing off the territories? most certainly not. I do not understand how the arguably most sophisticated army in the world can continue to makes hollow excuses like "we have to stop the terrorists" or my personal favorite (on which I've been denied entry to the West Bank 3 times) "Its for security reasons" everytime civlians are killed, maimed, or endangered in Gaza (see: Rafah;) or it can't find any other rational excuse.

Dear Laila, do you have any idea at all how many times a week terrorists are stopped while being on their way trying to carry out their "missions" (meaning blowing up people(!!!) in busses, markets and the likes).

What you are trying to say is: leave the borders open, don't check, pull down the anti-terror-fence - and get used living with suicide- and other kinds of deathly attacks... What? You care about your children? Why?

No Laila, you're turning things around. What a pity. Because ONLY if you'd understand "the other side" they can understand you.

Nonetheless, I'm very sorry you have to live through those sonic booms, they are NOT the way to deal with the threat of Palestinian terror.

Be well,
Tsedek
Ramat Gan - Israel

4:23 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Tsedek-I'm being specific here: on what basis would I be denied entry to the West Bank based on "security reasons" (this is at times when erez is open, I'm not talking about a total closure). As you can tell from our limitied interaction, I'm obviously a very violent person (I'm being sarcastic here). About the only threatening thing I have in my arsenal (besides my writing-which I gather is the ultimate reason) is Yousuf's poopy diaper.

Tsedek: I'm not advocating an all or nothing scenario. Security experts the world over have offered modern screening solutions that would accomodate both Israel's security needs and the Palestinian mobility and freedom of movement at places like Erez, and eventually, other checkpoints (that is leaving aside the issue of why there are checkpoints within the WB to start with), but I'm referring to border terminals. They would be more effeicient for both sides, but the Israeli government has so far not agreed to the plan. Let's not kid ourselves-its widely acknowledged that closures are used by the Israeli military as collective punishment, not consistently or for obvious security needs (this is stemming from my own conversation with Israeli soldiers at Rafah, while they were still there in the "good old days"). They openly acknoledged to me they would delay the buses or keep the terminal closed arbitarirly, for no particular reason other than their mood.

By the way Ibraham-just because I don't censor, doesn't make what you say the truth. Remember that or one day your head will explode with arrogance.

back to work for me.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Dear Jonathan:
I would love to submit an op-ed to an Israeli paper, I'm just not sure how. Tips welcome.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

And Jamie: pls. don't make blanket assumptions about what I do and do not believe. I can't waste all day, nor do I intend to, sharing my position and opinion on every issue here, I say it like it is and how I see it, and I'm willing to listen to how you see it, though we wont agree necessarily. Its easy to pigeonhole people to make what they are saying more repulsive to you.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

FYI, from the Gaza Based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights:

PCHR reminds the Palestinian resistance groups of their
responsibilities with regard to protection of civilians in keeping with international law, and calls on them to abstain from launching any military activities from inside or near civilian areas or which target civilians or civilian areas. Attacks against civilians are in clear violation of international humanitarian law.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Then let my head explode. I certainly wouldn't be on your blog to lie. That would be a waste of time. The internet exposes 99.5% of them within hours.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Edelstein said...

If you're in touch with Ray Hanania, he writes op-ed pieces for both Ha'aretz and Yediot Ahronot, and I'm sure he'd tell you which editors he works with and put in a good word for you. Nazir Majali, who writes occasional columns in Ha'aretz, might also be able to give you that information. Lisa at On the Face could probably give you some names if you asked her.

Unfortunately I've never written for an Israeli paper myself, so I can't give you any names directly. If you don't know any of the people I listed above, please e-mail me privately and I'll try to find some other names for you.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila,

No, I don't think you're a violent person, but I do see that you lost track of WHY these things (as I mentioned before: either justified or not) do happen. I do see reason in trying to prevent suicide-attacks and given the treacherousness of the terrororganisations I can easily follow the fed-up stance of some of the IDF soldiers (not that I justify them, but still that's a lot less worse than blowing people in pieces cause they did so to your fellow-soldiers).

That's why there are more troubles for you to cross to the West Bank - for before the Intifada II there were no such problems at all. Should make you think, no?

That's also why I'm surprised at the feeble to non-existing criticism terrororganisations are receiving from the Palestinian bloggers.

Fi amanillah,
Tsedek

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - A Gazan woman by the name of Zulfa Alhuseini is writing quite some time now about Gaza in the Walla newssection:

http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//825022

8:37 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

I don' read Hebrew (very well) Tsedek, sorry.

You said that "That's why there are more troubles for you to cross to the West Bank - for before the Intifada II there were no such problems at all." Actually, Gaza has been under a de facto closure situation since the 1990s-even during Oslo, it was nearly impossible to get a permit to visit the West Bank or Jerusalem unless you were a VIP or had some major Israeli connection. About 90% of Gazans fall into the category of being denied permits. Makes you think, no?

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila, you wrote:

Actually, Gaza has been under a de facto closure situation since the 1990s-even during Oslo..

You're right, I made a mistake. That must have been the Intifada I. Sorry for this.

I had friends living in Gaza - and they had no troubles visiting me here within the green line borders during the '90s... You are saying it was different for Gazans to travel to the West Bank that time?

Tsedek

3:08 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Hi Tsedek- actually no I did'nt mean Intifada I-ironically it was EASIER to cross into israel or the WB or even Jerusalem then (we do so many times on day trips). I mean during the 1990s. Believe me, there were troubles. Its not like you can just meander up to Erez like any border or airport and say "I want to go for a visit". You have to go through a matrix of administrative procedures that takes weeks even months and often results in a big "DENIED", even back then. And I know very few Israelis know this. I myself studied in the Hebrew University in 1997 and was shocked that most of my teachers, classmates, and so on had never met a Gazan, let alone knew about how difficult it was to get out of GAza. When we say it is a prison, we really mean it.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila,

I'm getting all confused here. My friends never ever said anything about that. Wasn't that the time of the Israeli and Palestinian joined "coffee-drinking-checkpoint-guards"? I've visited Gaza back then quite a few times but never noticed serious problems around me while crossing... Do you mean Gazans met those problems applying for the paperwork in order to be able to cross? Maybe my friends had no problems because they had work-permits within Israel?

Anyway, I want you to know that although I'm in favor of minimizing the risks of having terrorists entering Israel, it is in no way in my name that the civilian Palestinian population suffer any degree more than is absolutely necessary in order to keep those attackers outa here. As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that mingling would speed up good relations and good relations could found the basis for a peaceful co-existence.

Take care,
Tsedek

2:52 AM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Exactly what degree is more than is absolutely necessary in order to keep those attackers outa here?

The Israelis would love to mingle, except mingling leads to suicide bombers having an easier time getting to highly populated areas.

In your name, we are trying to preserve your life. Don't like it? Then vote against it. But don't expect your neighbor next door - the one whose only child and grandchild died in a suicide bombing - to like it.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ibrahamav,

I don't know what is absolutely necessary in order to keep the terrorists outa here. That's why I started reacting to this blog, to find out the degree of involvement in someone else's pain caused by the people claiming to defend the Palestinian interests, under "normal" Gazan people (my friends are "normal" for instance, they just KNOW that suicideattacks are not only hurting the Israeli's but on a widespread level, the life's of Palestinians as well). Except that in this blog, I see no emotional involvement or even willingness to try to understand the pain those attacks have brought upon others at all.
It is therefore that I'm very dissappointed and would be discouraged if I would not know myself Gazans that are not that one-sided.
B.t.w.: I'm an Israeli, Ibrahamav

Tsedek

5:22 PM  

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