Saturday, December 27, 2008

The rains of death in Gaza

We woke up this morning to the news in Gaza. It seems we always wake up to news there- so its become a matter of perspective how bad the news is each time; how remote it seems each time; how real or not; how severe-and whether the severity warrants an "international outcry" or whether the animals can continue to fester in their cages for a while longer.

We received a call from my in-laws in Lebanon's Baalbeck refugee camp at an early hour, checking in on my family in Gaza, since they cannot call them directly. We call my parents. My father does not answer. We call his mobile- we reach him. He has just returned from Shifa hospital- we hold our breaths.

"We are OK. We went to donate blood and to see if they needed any help" says my father, a retired surgeon.

"I was out in the souk when the strikes began- I saw the missiles falling and prayed; the earth shook; the smoke rose; the ambulances screamed" he said, the sirens audible in the background. he was on talateeni street at the time of the attacks, just a few streets down from one of the attack sites.

My mother was in the Red Crescent Society clinic near the universities at the time of the initial wave of attacks, where she works part-time as a pediatrician. Behind the clinic was one of the police centers that was leveled. She said she broke down at first, the sheer proximity of the attacks having shaken her from the inside out. After she got a hold of herself, they took to treating injured victims of the attack, before they transferred them to Shifa hospital.

There, she said, medical supplies were in short supply: face masks, surgical gloves, gowns...

My parents live in the the city center, and the Israeli war planes attacked people and locations all around them. Over 50 "targets"by 60 warplanes, read the headlines in Haaretz. And over 220 killed- in broad daylight; in the after-school rush.

Like a movie tagline. Or a game. If you say it enough times, it does not sound real anymore: 50 targets, 60 warplanes, 200 people, 1 day.

All very sanitary. Very sleek. Neatly packaged: war in a gift-box.

"There is a funeral passing every minute. The bodies are piling up." Gaza's air is saturated with the smell of burning human flesh. There is panic, as one would imagine dogs would panic in an overcrowded cell when several of their own are violently, abruptly killed. But dead dogs-in a cage, no less, would create an outcry.

The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, we watch. and silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death onto Gaza? Egypt; the United States; Israel...

And it will all seem, in the end of the day, that they are somehow a response to something. As though the situation were not only acceptable- but normal, stable, in the period prior to whatever this is a response to. As though settlements did not continue to expand; walls did not continue to extend and choke lands and lives; families and friends were not dislocated; life was not paralyzed; people were not exterminated; borders were not sealed and food and light and fuel were in fair supply.

But it is the prisoners' burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration. They deviated. But nevertheless, there are concerns for the "humanitarian situation": as long as they do not starve, everything is ok. Replenish the wheat stocks immediately.

The warden improves the living conditions now and then, in varying degrees of relatively, but the prison doors remain sealed. And so when there are 20 hours of power outages in a row, the prisoners wish that they were only 8; or 10; and dream of the days of 4.

For more analysis, details, and calls to action, see Ali Abu Nimah's article here:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10055.shtml

46 Comments:

Blogger eurofrank said...

Is there any news of Heba and her children?

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just read about the airstrikes and immediately thought of you, your blog and family. thank god, your immediate family are well. how are you holding up? all this, doesnt make sense, dada, it really doesnt.

mbuya nehanda
www.aburstoflight.wordpress.com

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wishing you and your loved ones to stay safe.

From an American Jew praying always for peace before anything else.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear friend,
iam abdul rasheed, a journalist working with madhyamam daily, kerala , india. iam writing this letter for ur permission for publishing some articles in your blog in my nwspaper. expect ur reply as soon as possible.
with prayer,
rasheed.
rasheedindia@gmail.com

8:18 PM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Yeah, we woke to this news as well. My words would be empty, but my heart is full. I keep thinking "someday"; my youngest child keeps saying "people are hurt, help them". Having Down Syndrome as he does, he sees the world with a different perspective.
May your family stay safe.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Dawn in Chicago said...

Hello,

I am a U.S. citizen in Chicago. I do not have any tangible connection with the Middle East, and am neither Muslim nor Jewish.

I was looking through the blogposts today concerning Gaza. Yours caught my eye.

I just wanted to express my great distress upon waking up to learn of the Israeli attack on Gaza today. I apologize for what is happening to your people and your family. I wish the U.S. were coming out more strongly in condemnation of the Israeli violent actions. I have called the U.S. Secretary of State office and expressed my concern and my desire that the U.S. more strongly condemn today's Israeli actions.

I sent an email of condemnation to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. I also sent an email to the American Jewish Committee, and expressed very strongly my disapproval of that organization's statement today in support of the Israeli action.

My best wishes for your family. Hang in there!

8:33 PM  
Blogger JohnB said...

Laila,

It is an outrage that the Israelis chose to attack using F-16 at the precise time children would be returning from school. And that was no coincidence.

Just as the Israelis knew the exact location of every security compound they know just as well what the school schedule is. These strikes were designed to exact as much harm as possible and as far as I am concerned there is no place in the Hellfire bad enough for those who planned the "operation."

The strangulation of Gaza as collective punishment has gone on too long. The strangulation, in my opinion has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Israelis. They want excuses to finish the job that started in 1948 - tighten the noose, and as the victim kicks, use the kicking as justification to inflict more punishment all the while exclaiming to the world that they (the Israelis) are somehow being "terrorized" by the kassams, but having F-16s delivering death into neighborhoods during these "operations" is not terror at all but a "response."

Yes, it certainly is a response; a predictable outcome when you back someone into a corner and shut off their food, their water, their medicine and their hope.

If you live in the US, make your feelings known to your congressman and senator. Join the boycott. Act in solidarity.

John

PS - if you hear from Heba, let us know...

9:34 PM  
Blogger Ziz said...

aa

you've been on my mind since i heard the raids... you are in our prayers, everyone in Gaza are in our prayers...

10:32 PM  
Blogger Helena Cobban said...

Oh Laila, this is all horrible. I'm praying for your parents who ae dear, dear people, and for all the people of Gaza.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God will punish them.
there will be justice.
God Bless Palestina.

From Rome,Italy.
Luca

4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila, I could not stop crying all day long yesterday and I am crying as I write now. How much more can people take before they succumb to madness? All the losses, of life and land and dignity- and what? They're supposed to say: "We'll just sit quietly and wait for the world to decide for us"? The world has let them down, beginning in 1948. Peace will never be in the Israelis' reach until they acknowledge this; that the creation of a false country has led to this. All the wars, conferences and road maps and treaties after 1948, don't change a thing. The 'state' of Israel is built on rotten foundations. After 60 years of lies and deceit, are they 'secure'?
Umm Salwan, Libya

12:24 PM  
Blogger attawie said...

Dear laila,

We're praying for Gaza, wishing if there's something more to help people in Gaza.

God bless everyone there.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Shachar Shemesh said...

Hi Laila,

Without trying to make things confrontational, I'd still like to know (and, yes, I am an Israeli Jew): What would you have Israel do? You feel like a prisoner, and I can certainly sympathize and understand the sentiment. What I cannot do, however, is think of anything we could do different.

I can understand why the wall is making your life difficult, and am truly sorry about the situation, but I also remember how our lives were before it was constructed, and cannot but feel glad it is there. Much though it hurts me (and it does) that you live under siege, I fail to see a better course of action for Israel to take. Much though I am sorry for the 250 lives lost (and, I have to tell you, I feel more sorry for the 15 unarmed than for the rest, despite the fact that I'm sure to you they are all fellow fallen), I fail to see how Israel should have ignored constant bombardment of it's own cities.

Any constructive suggestion is welcome.

Shachar

12:56 PM  
Blogger Um Zakarya said...

Dear Laila,

I've spent my day and night in front of aljazeera, I've seen the rivers of blood, the children crying, I've been thinking about the palestinian children and mothers I know and I've been
praying Allah to help the people of Gaza.

I was married to a palestinian man and I lived in a refugee camp in the west bank.Thus I tend to consider Palestine as home and every palestinian as a member of my family.I've left Palestine physically but a big part of my heart is still there.

My heart is with you sister and with every gazan.INSHALLAH Allah will help you to get rid of that terrible occupation.

Maryam

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, sure, school dismissal... that's why the Israelis, operating in a densely populated area against an enemy that deliberately rains down missles upon schoolchildren, managed a stunningly low civilian casualty rate of under 10%.

How telling that you began your litany of complaints with "as though settlements did not continue to expand..." We don't see Abbas on the West Bank, who deals with those settlements, sending suicide bombers. No, that is the province of the Hamas terrorists who took over Gaza when Israel left and said "here, let's see what you make of it."

You chose war over peace. Deal with the consequences of that choice. Stop the shooting from Gaza, and Israel will not need to fire back.

Why is this so hard for you to understand?

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salam Laila,

Praying for you, your family and the people of Gaza.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Advocates of the illegal Zionist occupation: who loves war? who chooses war? Occupation *is* war.

If an intruder entered my house, took over my kitchen sink, made me ask for water in my own house, then decided to partition off part of my house and designate that as my family's only living space...what would you have me do? Smile and wish the intruder "peace"? Why don't you ask the Indian nations of the U.S. whose land was usurped, *millions* slaughtered, now living on "reservations", entire cultures decimated because the settlers felt this was THEIR LAND, God's calling, that the Indians were heathens, etc. I'm an American. I have all of this in my history - and I can LOOK AT IT and know that it was wrong. I can be critical. And I'm living on this land now. Why don't you try and do the same? Step down from your high little perch, touch the ground, try and reflect.

You are only repeating the darker episodes of history - and don't call it different, justified, whatever. Occupation, murder, torture, illegal imprisonment...we're all human, all prone to the same patterns and possibilities of existence, and you are just the next oppressor/bully nation who will surely go down in history as just that.

And every oppressor and empire eventually falls.

Amy

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Jacinto said...

As an American citizen and a Christian, the support my country gives to the State of Israel and our inaction in the face of this continuing oppression is depressing. The inhuman acts the Israeli State is inflicting deserve more than condemnation, more than mere words.

I'm praying for Gaza. InshAllah you will overcome your struggle and there will be peace in Gaza and all Palestine.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous SparklingDiamond said...

I'm shocked about what is happening in these sad days in Gaza... I' feeling bad if I think about death and disruption... oh it's so stupid how human race kill some similars...
But I'm hoping they're going to stop so soon... even if now it's just too late, not very soon.
I'm hoping and praying all will finish...
Sorry for my bad english, I think sometimes it's difficult to write emotions in other languages different from yours. Best regards my dear... and a lot of hope for you...
Thank you for this description...

9:58 PM  
Blogger Neil Williams said...

3000 protest at Israeli London embassy today at Gaza massacure.

To see more on all the UK protests visit the Respect Supporters Blog at:
http://respectuk.blogspot.com/

Respect is the party of George Galloway MP.

We are with you in your struggle for freedom, peace and justice!

9:59 PM  
Blogger Halla said...

God help everyone in Gaza! Slaughter does not equal peace!

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I may Laila,
Shachar,
All I see is contradictions in your statements really, so what, by your sick logic, yalla make life hell for the Palestinians for your lives to be luxurious, not that its luxury is disturbed by the palestinians anyway, it's you who are impeding the palestinians' lives, discuss the problem at its roots instead of blabbing "our cities are being bombarded by primitive rockets", talk about the occupation, your settlements, greed, blockades, ruthless control, constant sick treatment of the palestiniansand the lack of morals of your army and government leaders. you come here so shamelessly to blame your genocides on others, by justifying your assault callously, please, blame it on your lack of compassion and respect for human lives.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Yaakov Sullivan said...

As a Catholic American married to a Moslem Palestinian I am very saddened by all this death and crimes. I hope you are doing well. My husband was born in Gaza and has a lot of family. Our 2 boys are also adopted and are very scared for their family. I hope Allah is with you.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous A Logical Person said...

How about watching both sides?
I live in the Israeli side of the border, and I just can't stand the world press' statements during these past two days.
I do not believe, in any way or form, that killing innocent people will lead to a better reality. But it's not only us who happen to hit them. I, myself, have been suffering from rockets which were shot from Gaza during the last 6 months (and 8 years before that). Those past 6 months were a "cease-fire", in case you forgot.

We simply have no other way of action. Hamas doesn't accepts our existence and we restraint, Hamas shot our farmers and citizens and we restraint, Hamas kept violating the Cease-Fire and we restraint, and finally Hamas lunched more than 60 rockets the same day when our foreign minister was trying to develope the peace-policy in Egypt. We cannot restrain ourselves anymore. Our only option, the only one YOU left for us, is military.

I'm so very sorry and wish you peace, and I hope noone but Hamas-terrorists will be killed.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila:
I think your blog is very important. I identify with you as a mother and woman who lives in a country often torn up by strife.
I am a Jewish American Israeli. I must admit, that while your blog is wonderful for showing a sense of universality among mothers, and lends a "human" picture to those who stereotype Palestinians as "all terorists",and while I am truly upset that there are so many unnecessary killings and that innocent lives arelost during this time, I must agree with Shachar's question.
I would like to know your opinion: What would you have Israel do? If we are all human, and all deserve the right to exist, then why shouldn't Israel defend itself? We did not just go and attack Gaza; it was a response to attacks on Israel from Gaza.(after a long period of time without any response from us, as far as we know) And I hope you understand that my heart is sickened by all the death going on for your people right now. I wish it wasn't so. But I also ask : what alternative was there?
I hope and pray for peace in Israel and in Gaza and hope that one day there will not be a reason to shoot guns, missiles or kassams. I pray that one daythe only thing we will shoot are photographs and the only things we send will be emails and letters,and that borders will cease to be an issue. May our families be blessed with peace and health.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila;
I identify with you as a mother and as a woman who lives in a country torn by strife.
I am a Jewish American Israeli. And while I am truly dismayed by the unnecessary killing of innocents on either side, including Gaza, I find myself agreeing with Shachar's question: What would you have Israel do? If everyone has a right to exist and defend one's own territory, what other option would there be? Israel is attacking in defense of its own cities, at the moment, and this is after a long spell of waiting and using restraint after missiles were shot at Israel. Why would I want my children harmed (G-d forbid) anymore than you would want yours harmed? the answer is: I don't, just like you.
And by the way, I am truly sickened and upset by the deaths and pain of your people. I wish all of this could stop, and that there will one day be peace, without need for guns, missiles or kassams. I wish that one day the only thing we will need to shoot are photographs and that the only things to send over borders will be emails and letters, and that the whole need/issues surrounding borders would cease to exist.
I think your blog is important because it shows a "humanness" that busts steretypes for people who think that all Palestinians are "terrorists" and like I said, I totally relate to you as a mom of two children.
May your children and mine be blessed with peace and good health and may we one day be able to have normal, joyful cultural exchanges between our peoples (as opposed to tears).

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The anonymous responder to Shachar is being dishonest. All the talk about settlements and greed are nonsense when Israel unilaterally dismantled all settlements and left Gaza. That is the type of overture where a people sincerely interested in peace would respond favorably and look for further progress.

Instead, Gaza was converted into a terrorist base under the control of Hamas. No government in the world could sit idly by while a terrorist organization deliberately targeted its civilian population centers.

If you are an re-inventor of history, then you believe Sderot and all of Israel have no right to exist. This is, of course, the Hamas position. This is why Hamas condemns you to unending war, because the Israelis are not leaving and will defend themselves.

If you are reasonable, then you respect the right of the citizens of Sderot to live in peace. Stop shooting, and Israel will not fire back. Stop sending suicide bombers to murder people at and beyond the borders, and there will be no more "blockade" (otherwise known as a closed border with a hostile power).

A woman from Gaza was receiving treatment in an Israeli hospital. She was caught wearing a belt of grenades, which she planned to detonate in an Israeli hospital, murdering the doctors and nurses caring for her.

If you defend that, there is truly no hope to avoid violence, for you take no responsibility and must be spanked like a recalcitrant child, reluctant to learn to live a civilized life.

You're getting the spanking now. Cry all you want, but learn your lesson.

12:54 AM  
Blogger JohnB said...

I am not defending the use of kassams, but using F-16s in response using ordnance that has explosive capabilities far beyond a kassam in urban areas is not acceptable.

Justifying the response by saying "only" 10% of the casualties were civilian as if this were meritorious is absurd.

As I noted, and I will be more direct this time, perhaps if you stopped starving people to death they would be less likely to lash out. Perhaps if you did not deny them medicine, they would be less likely to lash out. Perhaps if they were not denied their property and freedom of movement, they would be less likely to lash out.

Perhaps if this were not a runup to elections in Israel we would not be seeing this "infomercial" for how "tough" the Kadima Party can be.

It is disgusting, frankly.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Safiyyah said...

salam alaykum sister layla

please continue updating your blog with news of gaza so the world can know what is happening.

my prayers are with you and all the people of gaza

1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm not one who thinks all palestinians are terrorists. most want peace and work and everybody to leave them alone.
that said, it's really simple: we do not have any interest in ruling you. none.
stop sending rockets. whether you are ruled by hamas, fatah, whatever, we don't care. stop sending rockets; stop being aggressive; a month of REAL, absolute quiet, and your borders will open; don't use that time to smuggle rockets, keep the quiet. another two months, and your airport will open.
leave us alone. we are sick of you. we don't want you, not as subjects to rule, not as workers, not as anything.
but if you let your people fire rockets, don't cry that we'll hit you back.
good luck stoping Hamas - do it and we'll stop our army.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Vivo said...

I am not good at praying, but tonight I pray for you and all the people in Gaza. I hope you and your family are safe. Love and peace.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Stop being aggressive?

Let's try ending the occupation.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

amen to that !

3:40 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

What occupation are you talking about? Israel has withdrawn from every inch of Gaza strip years ago!

What it got in response is your rockets. A lesson to learn.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The abuser mentality never changes, the victim is always to blame.

When Egypt threatened a blockade of one Israeli sea route 40 years ago, this was believed to be just cause for launching massive air strikes against Egypt and invading.

When a Blockade - not just a border crossing closure, but also a complete blockade of Gazas port - has been underway for months, it's an act of inconceivable evil for Hamas to kill ONE Israeli.

The death of this ONE Israeli during the cease-fire now justifies the killing of better than a score of civilians?

No one on the face of the earth would buy this if it were any other two nations.

11:15 AM  
Blogger LillaJag said...

May your family and all the palestinian people be safe.I pray for you!
Lots of love from Sweden//Irina Alakhdar

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Laila, with all the respect, you have to accept it.
We are here, have been here for 60 years and will be here for many more.
If you don't accept it, many people will die as they do now, on both sides.

You can't demand us to leave. You can't demand of all Polish people to leave and give their land back to Germany, Russia and so on. You can't demand Americans to leave and give their land back to the Indians.
The actions already took place, and now you have to live in the present.
I say it again, We Are Here. I want you to be by my side, but not instead of my sons.

All the checkpoints in the West Bank weren't there before the Intifada, just as this "blockade" wasn't there before we found no alternative.

I call to you, humble and honest men of Gaza, go out, protest, shake the Hamas extremist off of you. You see we have no trouble with Jordan or Egypt. This is NOT the way.

Peace, hopefully, if there's such a thing.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salam!

all my solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza.
I hope that the good will men and women can stop this masacre as soon as possible.
I cannot pray as I'm not religious but please if you know of a way to contribute let us know!

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When Egypt threatened a blockade of one Israeli sea route 40 years ago, this was believed to be just cause for launching massive air strikes against Egypt and invading."

Do you know why France and the UK launched their forces against Egypt? Economics. They didn't care for Israel, which was nothing but the accidental allie in that war. The 'one Israeli sea route' was the primary sea route for France and Britain from India, and therefore they attacked. No more and no less. Read the Egyptian comments on what's going on in Gaza, they are quite right.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anat said...

keep writing. and take care.
some of us in Israel think this is another stupid and cruel war for political interests. as allways.

Anat. Ramat Gan

11:28 PM  
Anonymous B said...

i am ashamed of my country (the US) and send you and your family good wishes, for what is worth. It disgusts me that are so many commenters and people in general who are in denial about being pro-colonialism and imperialism. and that according to these people, 300 palestinians are worth 2 Israelis.

11:53 PM  
Blogger JohnB said...

So Tom, In order to prove your point that you "are here" then that point will be demonstrated with the greatest violence possible and the "peace" that you seek, apparently is the peace of living next to the dead.

Resolving a conflict with my neighbor by doing violence to him does not resolve the conflict, it only perpetuates it.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous kamarul said...

someone asked...

which occupation?

the state of israel you are sitting now is the land of the palestinian who were forced out for you, after only you killed their fathers, brothers and sisters...the palestinian bloodbath is your state

and of course its a human rights to exist....but the state of israel existence is based on non existence of the palestenians

this is the occupation she was talking about....

regards from Malaysia...

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

for all those who keep repeating that "this was the only way Israel could deal with Hamas, because they kept sending rockets":

let me explain something very very very simple:

OCCUPATION IS WAR. period

when Israel closed off all the borders of gaza (which it has no right to do, by the way), simply because Hamas was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED, did u expect palestinians to sit on thier behinds, while israel starved them? NO, they are going to do something even if it was ineffective most of the time. (qassam rockets mostly landed in empty fields)

So, israel leaves Gaza. what about the West Bank?

PALESTINE IS ONE.

when israel gets their illegal settlers out of the westbank, smashes that illegal aparthied wall of thiers, shuts down all the checkpoints and gets the hell out of land that is not thiers:

Guess what? THERE WILL BE NO HAMAS.

Hamas has said it time and time again, if israel gets the hell out of 1967 territories, they will recognize israel. is that so hard for israel to understand?

Yes, because they are greedy land snachers who don't want to give back what isnt thier's but at the same time cry they only want 'peace'.

again, maintaining an ILLEGAL OCCUPATION IS NOT WANTING PEACE. PERIOD.

now that i have shown u the bigger picture, i hope we wont have to read those ignorant comments anymore.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Sarah said - dream on.
As well meaning as you probably are, ignorance is a poor foundation to build an argument on.
So ponder these facts:

In 1947, the Jews accepted the U.N. partition of Palestine.
The Arabs did not.

After the 1948 war, Egypt occupied the Gaza strip and surrounded your beloved Palestinians with land mines. Jordan annexed the West Bank. Neither country had any intention whatsoever for the Palestinians to have a sovereign state.

In 1964, three years before the Six Day war, the P.L.O. formed with the sole intention of driving Israel into the sea.

I could keep throwing the facts at you from now til next year, so I'll cut to the chase:
The Palestinians who chose coexistence with Israel and constitute 20% of Israel's population are living tremendously better than their counterparts in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, etc.
This simple fact is intolerable to fanatics like Hamas and Hezbollah.
They'd rather condemn 1.5 million Arabs to poverty and starvation than establish a lasting peace with Israel. Until that impasse is broken, things will only get worse, and people like you will continue to confuse cause and effect.

7:53 AM  
Blogger ROULA said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:38 PM  

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