Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fear and terrorism: the Israeli war on Gaza continues

I am writing this entry as my heart is pounding, my fingers trembling, my eyes in tears. . . so forgive me if I sound irrational. I thought it was over, I really did. Was I naive? Perhaps. But hopeful. Always hopeful. Now I simply feel stupid; and very, VERY afraid.

I was in the kitchen tonigh at around 11pm Gaza time, putting away a late dinner I had with my mother after filing a story for Pacifica Radio on a law suit filed against former Israeli army Chief of Staff Moshe Ayalon for war crimes. The suit came a week after a similar complaint was filed against Avi Dichter for bombing a civilian neighbourhood in Gaza with F-16s. How ironic that I file a story about F-16s bombing Gaza, thinking to myself-even arguing to dinner guests we had over-that that was an era long gone. International pressure would never allow Israel to use such diproportionate force again in such a densely populated area. "True" argued a guest, "now they are simply focussing on resistance leaders as targets."

The guests left, and just as my mother and I were chatting nonchalanatly, putting away the small plates of za'tar, olive oil, goat cheese, and persimmons, an enourmous explosion erupted following by the loud swoops of fighter jets-unlike ANYTHING I had ever heard- shaking our kitchen windows off the their hinges...the sound of Israeli fighter jets breaking the sound barrier over Gaza in a psychological war of terror.

I cannot begin to describe the sound except to say it penetrates into your very heart. Our whole building shook. I rand outside of the kitchen, fell down to the ground crying in hysterics, then screaming. My father woke up and held me tight, "its ok its ok", as my mother trying to calm me down. "what's happening, what's happening" I remember repeating hyserically. "We are being bombed, we are being bombed!"

It is that feeling of uncertainty, of vulnerability and fear in the face of an unseen, seemingly formiddible force, of feeling that death is at your doorstep, that gets to you...that strikes morbid fear in your heart and soul.

"It's nothing, it's an F-16 sound bomb, please calm down" said my father. Nothing but a sound bomb. It sounds so harmles, what is sound afterall compared to munition? In Arabic, they even call them "fake bombings." That is what I always thought to myself. Having experienced both, I think I can safely say the former has the possiblity to inflict far more intense psychological damage in a shorter period of time.

I ran like a crazy woman to check on Yousuf-last time this happened, while we were in the US, far far away, enjoying fall leaves and pumpkin patches, the windows shattered. So today, I immediately moved his crib away from the window and cracked the window open to relieve the vaccum, then called my cousins and turned the radio on. They assured me while this is the loudest sound bomb every fired by an F-16 (which means the F-16 was the lowest lying every) it happened with far more frequency last month. The bombings were decried by the international community.

But now, they have continued. THe planes are still overheard. They are swooping low.

My question is: why? Why PUNISH all of Gaza's Palestinians? Is it to make us all so afraid we can't close our eyes? To beg for mercy? To make it want to stop at any expense? IT is cruel. It is inhumane. It is collective punishment. It is psychological terror and torture in its rawest most disturbing form. And so the war on Gaza continues.terror and torture.

16 Comments:

Blogger Amelopsis said...

Laila I'm so very saddened to hear of you experiencing this terror today. I can only be glad that you're still there and able to type, that perhaps in your telling of these atrocities, we might better be able to effect change to stop them from continuing. At least you are physically unhurt. My thoughts are with you.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Living Away said...

Dear Laila.
First of all I’m happy that you and your son are back sound and safe.
"Why?" That’s a hard question and I don’t know if there is somebody in this world that could answer you that. Those governments and those wars are lost in time. I doubt if they know when, where, who and why everything started.
Do you know something, thank God you are there and you can speak clear and loud. Nobody can stop you!

2:19 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I think Laila's "why" was rhetorical. Of course we know why the Israelis are doing this.

Some of us do know when, where, who and why everything started.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Abu Sinan said...

Sorry Laila, but collective punishment is the way that Israelis deal with things. They have learned nothing from their own history.

Gaza was not the begining for Israel, it was the end. It was nothing more than a strategic retreat to gain a stronger hold on the West Bank, meanwhile Gaza is a giant shooting tank for the Israelis. Why doesnt the world see this?

3:01 PM  
Blogger ratttu said...

hamdulillah alla al-salameh layla

You probably know this but there is an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to outlaw these sonic booms
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4402326.stm
(I would not place any hopes on the ruling though).

This is such a horrible 3-year-old boy behaviour (my appoligies to all 3-year-old boys): to make a big boom to make everybody really scared.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila

So sad to read this. I remember reading about these in the press at the time, but reading personal experiences of it really brings home the dread, the torture of the experience.

I feel guilty that all I will do is write this note to express my sympathy, and then forget about this all and go back to my combfortable life, too busy to think about injustices like this...

12:36 AM  
Blogger Imaan On Ice said...

Welcome back to Gaza, Laila :-)
My feelings were almost the same the first time it happened to me, in late september. When it happened this time I wrote to my friend (in Sweden) on the msn "oh, hold on a minute, I'll just open my windows. They are bombing us".
However, these sounds really do have an effect on the mind. It's very stressful. I spent yesterday in my sofa, eating headache-tablets and watching Friends...

8:13 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

AA Iman-
well, I have been face to face with Israeli helicopter gunships on rooftops in Jabaliya; I have been fired at by sniper towers in Rafah and Dair al-Balah; I have been tear gassed and even exposed to stun grenades in Ramallah; I lived through the daily and constant shelling of Beit Hanun and Jabaliya, the daily thuds which could be heard clearly from the main road where we live. But none of those things compares to what I heard yesterday. IT wasn't just "bombing"-I've been under bombing before, many many times. It is not disorienting and nervewracking and torturous as this new tactic. The moment we reduce them to merely "bombing" is when the international community stops being concerned. This is a DANGEROUS new terror tactic that should be disallowed immediately.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Imaan On Ice said...

Of course?!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Imaan On Ice said...

It's a bit too much to write on the msn that "hold on, they are F-16 sound terror - sonic - bombing us". :-)

10:21 AM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

I guess they could blow up the block where the rocket was fired from, killing everyone including the terrorists.

But that would be wrong, wouldn't it.

So we use a sonic boom. I guess if you turned on the terrorists, the booms would stop. But you and your son would be dead at the hands of your peace-loving Gazans.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous SugarCubes said...

Manual Trackback: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/globalvoices/2005/12/19/this-week-in-palestinian-blogs-once-upon-a-time/

7:39 PM  
Blogger Amelopsis said...

Ibramav - when will Israel realise that Palestine and Palestinians are not theirs to control?

5:08 PM  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

As the disputed territories come under no other jurisdiction than israel, seeing as their is no other sovereign nation which can lay claim to the territory, then Israel has the unfortunate duty of administrating the territories as the indigents who have lived there for the last 57 years have proven unable to govern themselves in a lawful manner.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Safiyyah said...

Subhanallah...I'm so sorry to hear that this is happening. I don't know what to say beyond thanking you for sharing your stories and your life with us.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ummm maybe you guys should stop shooting missiles into Israel after Israel withdrew from Gaza...ever thought of that?

11:54 PM  

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