Trapped, Traumatized, Terrorized: Gaza Update
My father and I made simultaneous back to back appearances on CNN domestic and CNN international last night. My father spoke calmly, eloquently, in the pitch dark of besieged Gaza, with only the the fire of Israeli bombs illuminating his world: "they are destroying everything that is beautiful and living" he told the anchor.
His hands were trembling he confessed, as they lay on the floor of their home, where they moved their mattress far away from the windows, thunderous explosions ripping through the black sky all around them, lighting it up in enormous clouds of fire.
I call them every hour; sometimes every few minutes when I see renewed bombardment on my television. Sometimes he calls me for assurance:
"What's going on? what's going ?" he repeats in a weary, hypnotic tone.
"It just felt like they bombed our street from the inside out. I can't see anything. I don't know what's happening. What's the news saying?" he asks frantically, desperate for any morsel of information that can make sense of the terror being wrought upon them.
"The Apaches are right above our house. Its complete darkness outside, complete darkness" he goes on.
I ask if he got any sleep-I was up with him a good part of my night until dawn rose as the earth was blasting apart around him.
"Two hours, better than nothing." He said he went out for a quick breather, and took a picture of some children who went out for a few tense minutes to kick a ball around
He passes the phone to my mother. She tries to make pleasant chitchat, asking about when we will celebrate Noor's birthday-though I already told her a few days ago we had a small party.
"Oh that's right, that's right. Yassine?" she says, addressing my husband.
"I don't know what's wrong with me. Its strange, strange. My body is literally trembling from the inside. From the inside. Why do you think that is? Its strange" she rambles on.
I ask how they are doing on food supplies. She says she stood in line for 1 1/2 hours for a parcel of bread yesterday.
My father last night tried to communicate a single message: We keep hearing that Israel is after Hamas; but WE are the targets here; Civilians are the targets here, not Hamas.
An entire refugee family in one fell swoop was killed this morning as they took cover in their home, which took a direct hit from Israeli shells. Their deaths do not make Israeli more secure. Their deaths will not stop rocket fire.
6 paramedics and a doctor were also killed as they tried to rescue wounded Palestinians in northern Gaza.
And now, AP reports that the Gaza phone network is on the brink of collapse. I do not know how much longer I will be able to communicate with my parents.
Israeli human rights groups have also just reported that 75% of Gaza is without electricity and the sewage system is on the brink of collapse. In addition, Gaza City, including Shifa Hospital, is entirely without electricity. They also say 20% of those killed have been children or women. They also note that:
· Over half a million residents cut off from water supply.
· Sewage is spilling into streets, risk of more flooding.
· No fuel is being permitted into Gaza since start of military operation.
13, 000 Palestinians-many of them refugees from 1948- are now internally displaced in Gaza, according to the UN. Refugees 3 times over.
Live Free or Die. The motto of the State of New Hampshire, probably one that few Americans are familiar with, has never rung truer. And how similar it is to the feeling of ordinary Palestinians in the Gaza Strip now, trying merely to survive day to day, longing for a life free of Israeli occupation and terror.