Friday, July 14, 2006

From bad to worse: the downpour continues

Things are bad in Gaza. Very bad. Not to mention of course in Lebanon, where Yassine's family lives, in the Wavel refugee camp in Baalbeck, Hezbollah stronghold.

They, of course, along with all of Lebanon, are blockaded by an air and sea, so Yassine has sort of become a double-refugee now: he can go back neither to Palestine, nor Lebanon. It brings back very bad memories for him, having grown up during the civil war there, and narrowly escaping mass slaughter at the hands of Syrian-backed, Israeli-advised, Phalangists in the Tel Zaatar camp, where his family originally lived, and where his uncle went missing.

Of course, what's happening in Lebanon provides some uncertain relief for Gaza residents, where 82 Palestinians have been killed in the past 12 days, 22 of them children.

I was finally able to reach my Aunt who is doing an amazing job updating her blog under such duress, and who recently published an op-ed about the situation in the Boston Globe. She was dazed and anxious, but had her wits about her. They had not gotten electricity in 24 hours when I spoke to her; people have been standing in long lines to purchase candles.

and of course, Rafh is still closed; 8 people have died waiting to get home. Egypt, following Israeli orders, is refusing to open the gates.

The nights are turning into days, and days into nights, as the sonic booming shocks them awake, shattering windows and terrorizing the population. The stress is taking its toll, but to quote my Aunt, though they are not living with ease, they are living with resolve.

Medicines are also running dangerously low. And to add to the misery, Israeli tanks have blockaded northern Gaza, where my Aunt lives, and where our house is, from southern Gaza, where my 84 year old grandmother lives on her own.

I think of them every day. I still cringe when I see news helicopters; or fireworks; or thunder; Today we had a thunderstorm, and the thunder was so loud it scared Yousuf, who thought it was gunfire and shelling, as I tried to assure him he was safe. But I wondered, inside of myself, does safe have an address?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


thanks for the post I have been checking all day for your post and I have been glued to the TV and computer. Since the US has blocked almanar tv, we watched alalam for coverage on the situation. I pray that it doesn't get worse and Syria and Iran get involved. With what HA did, it took some pressure off the palestinians but now the lebanese civilians including children have to suffer. God be with all of them (in Palestine and Lebanon).

As for the thunder, we had storms here too and I thought of all the children in gaza and lebanon and what they are going through. *really big sigh* I am a mom and I know what you mean with thunder. Younis is so scared of it too.

Also, the past few weeks, every time I turned on a light switch at night I thought of back home in gaza and felt not only bad but guilty and every time I opened the freezer or freg with all the food...

I hope there will be no more innocent lives lost.

I hope you talk to Yassine's family soon and they will be ok. Also, is anyone near your grandmother to help her if needed?



P.S.: I spoke with my dad and asked him if he knew Ismail Shammout and he said he is very familiar with his art and he met Tammam in 1957 in Moscow. He was very sad to hear the news.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Gary Yeritsian said...

Laila, thank you for the update. Hope all your relatives and acquaintances remain secure in the face of continuing Israeli barbarity and illegality. Know that there are millions of sane and good-hearted people who deeply appreciate your work and actively struggle for justice for the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples, in spite of how hopeless the situation might seem.
In solidarity,
-Gary, Los Angeles, CA

9:00 AM  
Blogger Telemaque said...

The first prisoner whose release Hezbollah asked for was Samir Kuntar.

Do you know who he is?

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and of course, Rafh is still closed; 8 people have died waiting to get home. Egypt, following Israeli orders, is refusing to open the gates."

Israel is happy for these people to cross through two other crossings but the Palestinian government refuses to let them in except through Rafah!

Can you explain to me why this is?
I don't understand (really!).

11:59 AM  
Blogger tassoula said...

there is a very bad sittuation in middle east generally.hope even now for the best with lebanon i am i heard on the news that syria is about to have war with israel.sorry again for my bad english.i hope your son will get over this and have a beautifull life..

1:20 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Instead of trying to change Israel why don't you concentrate on what Palestinians could do to end this crisis? We all know that this could be over tomorrow if the Palestinians would release the captured soldier to Israel.

Why? It is not the Palestinians in Israeli jails. It is Pride. In the end, the Palestinians are much more attached to their pride then their caring about the dead civilians that have been the result.

Being forced to do something by the Israelis is so repulsive that they would rather have this torment inflicted on their children.

How many more people are you willing to sacrifice for your one prisoner?

3:42 PM  
Blogger فهد المحمود said...

Our hearts and prayers are with you and also with the Lebanese ... May Allah be with you and put His rath and punishment on the enemy and the hypocrites ...

I have no doubt that one day the night will end the the sun will rise again ...

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear - Thunder and fireworks scare me as well, though I have been luckier than many, and never experienced actual bombs raining down on me while I tried to survive such terrors. Words fail me at this time of such awful escalation. I fear that we are on the brink of that Armageddon sought and welcomed by far too many profiteers in my country and elsewhere. My wish is for peace and bread for all who suffer their lack. I have lived my life to this purpose and feel so helpless in the face of continued callousness and stupidity.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Moses said...

I was visiting some friends in the US a couple of years ago just after I spent more than a month in Gaza.

They wanted to watch fireworks on the roof(it was the American fourth of July holiday) and I went along but the whole evening I was tense and was thinking of debaba and US-made F-16s screaming over Rafah.

I am so glad you checked in, Laila.

My salaam to your aunt and the rest of your family.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

This is worse than I imagined things would get...kudos to your family for staying strong...

2:33 AM  
Blogger Moses said...

Thanks be to God today I got a text message from Fida. She was trapped in Egypt for two weeks but she is in Rafah now.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In answer to Gary - you talk about illegal activities by the Israelis. Funny you didn't mention the activities of the Hizbollah, who illegaly crossed the Israeli boarder, in an unprovoked incident, and captured two Israeli soldiers.

And more - We all know the Lebanon is a weak country that cannot even extend the rule of law to the whole of the country, but Gary, let me ask you this - do you think the US govt. would allow a militia ( say the KKK) to rule the south, and walk around bearing weapons? Do you think that England would accept armed Scottish Nationalists forming on the English
Scottish boarder?

No of course they wouldn't, and I am exaggerating on purpose. Not only did Israel withdraw from Lebanon completely, but they tolarated Hizbollah terrorists on their boarder. This recent incident was too much, and Israel are saying to the Lebanese government that if they won't get ride of these terrorists from Israel's boarder, than Israel will.

Israel complied with UN Resolution 1559 to withdraw from Lebanon, Lebanon also has to comply with the same resolution, and send its army into South Lebanon, right down to the boarder with Israel. Do you have idea why they have not done this? If they had, then none of what is happening at this moment would be happening.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stupid people, letting themselves being used by Shiite Iran, by Hezbollah.........they could be having commerce with Israel and rebuild slowly their lives.
stupid people bieng used by the Muslim Brotherhood and thinking that Shaaria can rule the world.
I am very angry.........a lot of Arab people are very angry at the Palestinians........let this story unravel and see how many cadavers can be spread in Gaza, Lebanon and Israel...............Bet you that there are going to be more dead people in Gaza and Lebanon than in Israel. The Israeli gov. cares very much about their people. Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah do not give a dammm..............Palestinians are just pawns.............

5:18 PM  
Blogger Torontoman said...

Thank you Mike for bringing up a good point there in response to Gary. However, in regards to the US letting KKK rule ensue, I think this is a pretty weak argument. The US govt. has already gone ahead an imposed its rule on the Iraqi people while the rest of the world told it to halt. This is the same mentality used by the KKK when they began exterminating the blacks in the south. What I'm saying is that a govt. has to be just and upright, a stance the US has purposely ignored and perpetuated the destruction of several countries, not just in the Middle East.

Oh and Israel complying with UN resolution? This is a step in a new direction. Let's see if they keep up and rip down that wall as ordered by the ICJ and start taking classes on the humane treatment of occupied personnes, a course both it and the US flunked on several occasions.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

israhel never with drew from lebanon completely

there is the golan heights and sheba farms

also there is that little problem of POW's from israhel's little colonial war

most not charged with anything and still in consentration camps that israheol runs for anyone who is palestinian or lebanese

as far as israhels legal borders? please at israhels admission and recognition in the UN it agreed to 'right of return' for all arab refugees so israhel's legitamacy is void from the start

fact: all of israhel is stolen and has no right to exist

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow leila well done for writing this brave blog. as usual we get the charming israeli racists baying for palestinian blood. don't let their words hurt you. it's not what most people think. and in some ways the more they expose their racism the better. it makes people realise what kinds of people you have to deal with. good luck to you.

what ignorant peole don't realise, as with the Irish and the IRA, is that innocent Palestinians don't have power over the terrorists. Somehow they think you do!

But these people are not interested in truth. It's about stopping the Palestinians from being free.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never knew that exchange of POW is considered a terrorist act. It seems to me that that word is used more often now to lable anyone or group of the "enemy"

I don't understand why Israel won't release the Palestinian women and children from their prisons in exchange for the one soldier. Instead, because they can and have all that extra money from the US, they invade Gaza and bomb Lebanon. Why don't you just exchange prisoners for God's sake and cease fire.

And to comment on the person above, the only reason Israelies care so much about one life is because they have so few to begin with ;)

As for the Arabs, I am sure because there are more of them that still doesn't make a human life worthless. A human being is a human being. So you prove our points that Israel is going to be barbaric and kill more people.

Oh and did I mention Israel is just defending itself, not sure againt what or whom but it is and has that right.
Real funny, but I am not laughing

Um Younis

8:21 PM  
Blogger Gila said...

Israel is defending itself against the 100's of missiles (as of about 2 hours ago, 780 missles over the last several days) which Hezbollah has been sending over the border. Granted, B"H, most of them have not caused loss of life, but that is not for lack of trying on the part of Hezbollah. This is war, on both sides. It should be pointed out that, while Israel has been focusing on hitting infrastructure, Hezbollah has been aiming at civilian areas.

Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. At the time of Hezbollah's attack, which we here consider an unprovoked act of war, there was no issue of occupation. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. If the Lebanese government, in its wisdom, has elected to allow Hezbollah to 1) control the south of the country and 2) declare war as it sees fit on behalf of the entire country, then the Lebanese government must shoulder the responsibility for the negative consequences. And indeed, the Lebanese PM is now calling for a cease fire and asking the UN for help in deploying the Lebanese army in Southern Lebanon--in other words, taking responsibility for the country and its acts.

Regarding Gaza, the missles were still being shot into Ashkelon and Sderot (again, civilian areas-one hit an elementary school)--and that after we pulled out of Gaza. The local government did not appear to be overly interested in curbing the activity, or in taking any steps to return our soldier. As someone who supported the pullout from Gaza, and who supports a proposed pullout from the West Bank and an ultimate two-state solution, I wish the situation were different, but it is not. If the only way to curb the sending of kassams into our country is to send in our soldiers, then in they must go.

The overriding issue is this: the local neighboring governments in Lebanon and Gaza choose to not only allow, but to actually encourage and support the sending of missles into our country, and kidnapping our soldiers. Negotiation is not only impossible with such groups, but also unwise. Look at Hamas's reaction to Olmert's refusal to negotiate for the return of hostages "You traded 140 prisoners for a drug dealer but you won't trade for a soldier". At the time the Tenenbaum deal was made, many claimed that this would embolden terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah to kidnap more soldiers. Sure enough, that is what happened, but it seems that our government has learned from past actions.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila: what does Islam say about receiving stolen property?

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the official Hamas motto goes like this:
We love death more than Israel loves life.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

The Israeli regime cares about its citizens? I see no evidence of that. If they cared, they would have negotiated with the Hamas government.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elizabeth: I thought that the Isarelis kept very quite about the Kassams because they care about the civilians as much as they care about their soldiers. But, there is no negotiations with kidnappers that hide amongst the people for protection......Hamas and Hezbollah hide in populated you think that they care about the Palestinian people? I don't think so. The only think that H & H care is about power and obeying Syria and Iran.PAWNS...........THAT IS WHAT H & H ARE, JUST PAWNS AND THEY HAVE HIJACKED THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE AND ABUSED THEM AT WILL.........PAWNS, PAWNS, PAWNS..........

5:28 PM  
Blogger Gila said...

On the contrary--it is because our government has seen that negotiations lead to more kidnappings that it is no longer negotiating. It is only when Hamas and Hezbollah realise that they will gain nothing (and in fact, will lose a great deal) by kidnapping, that they will stop.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our prayers and thoughts are with you and all of the innocents. May God keep them safe. I want you to know that not ALL Americans are blind. Many of us have a more clear understanding of the Palestinian/Israeli situation than what CNN or Fox news gives us. One thing I wish I could say to the Palestinian people....the truth is on your side. God Speed.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Prophet PBUH said that whatever was meant to happen to you wasn't going to pass you by, and whatever passed you by wasn't going to happen to you.

This is all meant to be, and yes we may argue about this and that and technicalities- which most will do till there dead- however in the grand scheme of things every soul will receive its due.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray that this madness ends soon.

1:13 PM  

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