Sunday, January 04, 2009

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.


Blogger jarvenpa said...

Thank you for continuing to post; I am following here and on twitter.
My heart too is shaken.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reporting, it is a valuable news source for most of the world. The media can not be trusted to report accurately.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Mohamed El Kortbi said...

Salam from Morocco.
We read Souart "Al fath - The victory " for you.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous said...

Dear Laila:

My heart breaks for the people of Gaza.

I have an idea that might help. I subbest that all Palestinians inthe occupied territories sew yellow cressents to their clothing.

Remember, in Germany in the 1940's, Jews were required to sew yellow felt starts of David on their clothing to identify them as Jews.

I think that if Plestinians start wearing yellow cressents it will become a huge story.

I know, I know, the Israeli air force is raining bombs, their artilery is raining shells, including white phosphorus, their troops are on the move. Innocents are being slaughtered, there is no food, no gas to cook, no electricity, no medicine. In short it's hell, and I'm writing about yelow cressents?

Yes, I am. The yellow stars of David are an enduring symbol. In fact the memory of that symbol is used by many in Israel and out to justify the horrors the Israeli state visits on its neighbors. It's time to take that symbol away, or better said, to transsubstantiate it in to a symbol of Israeli oppression.

Your friend in hope and horror,
Phil Metzidakis

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Liala,
As an american, I don't know what to do to help. Perhaps we could email our representatives to let them know how upset we are about this violence.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Terri's Space said...

I HATE what is happening right now...and what has happened to the Palestinian people and to Palestine. I wish you and your family well...even though I feel these words are useless...even those who survive will have the aftermath of this mess for years to come. My heart goes out the the Palestinian people.

10:36 PM  
Blogger shahab said...

I am really sad for whats happening...and I am following your posts Dear Leila....I hope they stop hitting innocent civilians,kids and women....and there was a report they rammed an aid boat in Gaza strip few days ago...but where can I see your appearances on CNN? it on the website?.
May God mercy be upon all those innocent people in Gaza

10:39 PM  
Blogger TRACY said...

May god keep your family safe...I saw you on CNN yesterday which is how I doscovered your website. My prayers are with your family and everyone in that region.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Moshe said...

Dear Laila,
War is ugly and destructive, war means death and hatred. Both of us Israelis and Palestinians are victims of our leaders who failed to solve the conflict in the Middle East with non violence means.
Every side has it's own truth every side blames the other. It is time for peace for compromise for mutual disclamation.
I'm reading your blog and my heart is with your family and people who suffer in Gaza as well as with the people of Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon who suffer from Hamas rocket attacks.
Your Father and me share the same name he is Moussa and I Moshe, Let us hope we'll share one day peace in our area.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I am writing from the "other side" in Israel. I hate this whole offensive. I wish there was a more efficient way to deal witht he ones firing the rockets and not cause so much suffering to innocent civilians.I was against this whole "ground operation," both for the innocent Gazan lives involved and for the young solders' on our side involved.
My heart is heavy at so much unnecessary bloodshed.
When will there be some kind of solution??
Upset and Distraught
P.S. May I ask you, do you think hamas is endangering its own people by firing rockets all the time and incurring this drastic response, as well?Also, what is the link toyour apearence on CNN?

3:59 AM  
Anonymous M. Andrade, Portugal said...


I've just read Moshe's (from Jerusalem) post. I found it under the circumstances very beautiful. I believe that it is attitudes like Moshe's that could find the answer to war and hatred. But why is it that these words such as Moshe's could easily be found in the mouth of a Christian, a Budist, a Bahahi etc, but hardly in a muslim's? In fact I have never observed an attitude of reconciliation in a muslim. Why is it that Islam is such an ideology that turns suffering only into violence and hatred and never into love and pardoning? I would very much like to hear your answer to Moshe, that is if you have any intention of doing so.

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Bijan said...

CNN Link to video:

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leila, my heart goes out to you and your family and all the innocent civilians that have suffered and are still suffering this tragic holocaust. In response to the bloger M. Andrade, not all Muslims are hateful or have rage in them and want blood shed. But the media portrays us Muslims as vultures, I am an Arab America Muslim, born and raised here in the U.S. and I among allott of other Muslims, are against innocent blood shed, children dying, innocent civilians suffering. Whether there muslims or not. I was in the 2006 Beiruit,Israel war. It was horible, and God bless the Christians who took us in and welcomed us and gave us refuge in there cities. My point is, this isn't an issue right now about Relgion. This goes further and deeper than that, it's an issue with how ugly humanity has become and how half the world is either blind or too scared too see it. So they shun it out. It's time for all of us, (US MEANING THE HUMAN RACE) to stand together as one, and let our voices be heard. Enough is Enough. How many more children have to die?

Dearborn, MI

8:18 AM  
Blogger UmmFarouq said...

We all saw your interviews. Thank you for continuing to be a voice of truth and reason. May Allah protect your family on both continents, and give you peace of mind.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

It is really sad that your parents have to fear.
But how would you suggest Israel should fight Hamas without hurting civilians in the process? Is there a single state that ever fought a war in populated areas without killing civilians?
According to the UN, 25% of the fatalities are civilians. Sounds like a lot - but if we compare with other wars, e.g., in Iraq, you see 60-70% and even higher rate of civilian deaths for fighting inside populated areas.
I've never heard of the American (or ANY other) army calling people to notify them the houses are going to be bombed - they just bomb. So no, Israelis are not interested in seeing Palestinians die - but they ARE interested in stopping Hamas. Israelis don't care whether you choose to be ruled by a bunch of bearded fanatics or a bunch of corrupt strongmen - it's your choice. But no country will tolerate rocket attacks on its territory. And neither will we.
May your family be safe.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont know what to say, words are not enough. I am writing this mesage from Serbia, my father is from Iraq, something should happend to stop the violence on whole midle east. The every gouverment we ordinary people "chose" have their own agenda, we a paying them they should work for us as public employees, but that would not happend. And i would like to suport idea about yellow ribons but it should be on world base not just palestinian whole world should suport peace at least we ordinary citizens, also it should be just yellow ribon whitout any ethnical marks on it to unite as.

Al - Hamashi Aleksandar

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope this silly fight will come to an end as soon as possible.
What's happening now is complete madness.

Wishing you strenght.


12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why everyone is so upset with the Isrealis advance. If any other country was repeatedly fired upon by another country, big or small they would respond in a manner to stop the rocket fire. Yes it is much more costly to the Gazans than the Israels but if a country wants to test another country by firing rockets then don't get mad when the country responds.

US had 2 planes used to attack us and we went and overthrew 2 countries governments over it, we would never let a country no matter how small continue to fire rockets into our nation.

So message to the palestinians is to send the message to Hamas that their job is to negotiate a peace and not keep poking at a lion with sticks.

1:09 PM  
Blogger littlehorn said...

In fact I have never observed an attitude of reconciliation in a muslim.

Moshe can be about reconciliation; if he posts in the Jerusalem Post, I can only conclude he lives in Israel. Yes, let's reconcile with the group we've bombed, choked, etc. When the shit stops, that is, no more settlements, no more blockade, no more bombing campaign, no more killing, no more betrayal of international treaties, agreements, etc. then I'll be expecting more reconciliation talk among Palestinians.

And I said more talk, because there already is talk of reconciliation among some muslims. And frankly, I wanna ask, where the hell have you been ? You just came off from some space shuttle ? You just realized WW2 is over and you came out of your cave ?
I can mention the muslims who work in the peace groups with other Israelis. I can mention the muslims in America. I can mention Laila herself. I can mention other muslims in France who protest the occupation, alongside other Jews who ask for reconciliation too.

It's not the ideology, it's Israel. Israel doesn't want the reconciliation. It's the first power in the region, it doesn't want a rival state right next to its border. Israel finds it highly preferable that the Palestinians never get a state, highly preferable to completely dominate their lives.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Hira said...

Its heart-rending to read all of this. May God keep your family safe, my prayers are with you.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a caucasian American who lives in the US. I have literally cried my eyes out because of all of the innocent casualties. I don't understand why this can't be handled in a different matter. Why do so many people have to suffer? I wish I could save all of those people and yet, there is nothing I can do except for pray for all! I just wish I could do something!

I hope this situation gets better and fast! & pray for all involved!

"Allah ouabard"

11:04 PM  
Blogger readmore86 said...


I have been hearing your father speak on various news stations (Dr. Moussa El-Haddad), please please tell me him that the Muslims in London are praying for his safety and for the safety and strength for all the Muslims in Gaza. We are trying are best here but we are also blocked by our so-called leaders. We will donate, protest, and raise awareness, but the victory is from Allah alone. May Allah reward your father,and all the Muslims in Gaza. May Allah give us leaders that will lead us out of this crisis.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a mother, I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through. Please know that the world is with you.

When compassion fills my heart,
free from all desire,
I sit quietly like the earth.
My silent cry echoes like thunder
throughout the universe.


Justice always prevails and love, ultimately, is always stronger than evil and the heavy pull of fundamentalism, on both sides.

3:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog since your appearance on CNN. Our prayers are with you -- may Allah grant your family and you patience, and protect all your family members.

5:24 AM  
Anonymous fiona said...

M. Andrade, how many muslim friends do you have? I am scottish and so, do not have many, but the three or so I know are very calm, compassionate, wise and peaceful. True islam is a beautiful religion of peace. Fundamentalists on BOTH sides are the ones who wish violence. Look at the US reasons for not wishing a ceasefire. Biblical phrophecy. Read some of Rumi's great work for evidence of how peaceful islam can be. I think the problem here is not religion, but justice and souls and hearts hurt so badly when people watch their children suffer, that they are full of anger and frustration. It takes a strong soul indeed not to sucumb to the egotistic desire for revenge rather than forgiveness. I am sure it is very, very, very few who do not want peace, but I imagine all want justice.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Jamila said...

Dear Leyla,
Last ten days have been very tragic and I can't help my tears. I am neither Palestinian nor am I arab. But I don't think you have to be either to see what's going on today.
My heart goes out to you and your family and the people of Gaza.
I have no idea how I can help, but I want you to know that it hurts me to watch my Muslim brothers and sisters suffer in Gaza.
Allah all knowing. Allah is the Judge.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Littlehorn wrote

"When the shit stops, that is, no more settlements, no more blockade, no more bombing campaign, no more killing,"

I have news for you.

There are no settlments in Gaza for over 3 years.

No more blockade, so that Hamas would have longer range missles?
ask Egypt to open its borders.

no more bombing compain, I hope that Hamas listens to you and stops firing rockets into Israel.

same goes for no more killing.

BTW: I have seen all your comments on this site and ask you Why won't you comment on what Israeli citizens are going through for the last 8 years?

If you want pease you would be for Gaza but against Hamas.

May the war end soon.

7:55 AM  
Blogger readmore86 said...

to yossi,

There will not be peace until Israel stops occupying land in Gaza, until they stop building illegal settlements, and starving Palestinians.

Israel does not want peace, this is clear as they are bombing UN schools. Hamas has a right to defend the Palestinian people.

And for question about how it feels to be an Israeli citizen; who cares! When you have displaced a whole nation, and have been ethnically cleansing in Gaza for the past 60 years or so.

Don't use the Holocaust narrative, because if the Palestinians used the same 'trauma' narrative, then that would not leave you with much of an argument.

the world is condemning israel, its arrogance,and its slaughter.

2:01 PM  
Blogger PEPITO said...

man i am tired of these muslims playing victims everywhere.they are becoing professionals at it. truth is they are waging war on anybody who does not believe as they do.Example in india(kashmir,mumbai), london (7/7) , spain(madrid train bombing) , america (9/11), philipnes (mindanao),thailand(southern thailand), russia(chechnya),bali,china(xinjiang)etc.............
religion of peace ....yeah right!btw Islam does not mean peace, it means submit and we non muslims dont feel like submitimg any time soon!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Mama Kalila said...

Pepito... do you not realize that not all Palestinians are Muslims? This is not strictly a Muslim issue. There are Christians (Palestinian mind you) suffering the exact same fate.

And for the record (this is coming from a non-Muslim btw) those things you mentioned were done by extremists, not the majority. I have read the Qur'an and studied their religion... while Islam does mean submit (you're right about that) it is supposed to be a religion of peace.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Byam said... Dignity - Peace - Prosperity

1:20 AM  
Blogger Byam said...

1:22 AM  
Blogger Byam said...

2:00 AM  
Blogger Byam said...

2:08 AM  

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