Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Safety is a state of mind

My father just called. I have learned to expect that the 9pm call is not a jovial one: it is usually to alert me of some awful thing transpiring around them. It helps, in whatever way, to broadcast this event that has yet to be broadcast to the world, to whomever you can. In this case, that person is me.

I see the number on my caller ID; my heart races. I answer my cell phone.

"We ...are under..heavy bombardment. Heavy bombardment" says my father in terrified, articulated syllables.

"They are bombing the Legislative Council building next to our house. They are bombing just down our street."

"Baba...are you safe, are you both safe??" I ask, not knowing what else to say.

"I have to go now..I have to go...i just wanted to tell you that..but I have to go..." he stammers. And the line goes dead.

We have figured out a system. When the electricity is back on in Gaza- which has happened for one hour during the past 48, my parents get on Skype immediately. If I am not around, they give me a quick call from their landline to let me know they are back on; they have 2-3 hours of back-up generator time after this. They stocked up on fuel during the past few weeks.

Then, it is dark again.

When the bombs are dropped around them, they send me a quick note to inform me of what happened before running to safety. I am still not sure where "safety" is; and neither, I think, do they. It is perhaps more a mental state and place than a physical one. In any other situations, people flee to where they perceive are safer locations. In Gaza, there is no "safe". And there is no where to flee to, with the borders closed, the sky and sea under siege.

This afternoon, we had a brief exchange.

[1:56:04 PM] moussa.elhaddad says: F16 and Apaches are in the sky of GAZA now

[1:56:16 PM] moussa.elhaddad says: FIVE new explosions

[1:57:58 PM] moussa.elhaddad says: One near Al-Nasr hospital, two behind our house. Money exchangers ( Al-Bar3asy and Hirzallah ) two other explosions a little bit far away.

Yesterday, my uncle's neighbor's home was leveled. Luckily, no one was hurt. But all 50 occupants were made homeless. They were out on the streets with nothing but their backs. Each had to find shelter with a different relative.

This morning, we appeared together on NPR- WUBR's Here and Now. There was as surreal quality to it. And for a few moments, we were in that "safe" place together, on some distant, sterile air waves. It is windy and cold today in Durham. I shiver when the shutters shake. and I think of Gaza. I think of home.


Blogger Teacher Activist said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm speechless. Insh'allah this ends soon.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Hijabee said...

subhanAllah, may Allah protect your family sister. I will make duah for them

5:24 AM  
Blogger stephanie said...

I'm really a loss as to what to say...what can I say that makes this an ok situation? That makes you feel remotely better, or keeps your family, and the thousands in Gaza, safe? Thank you for continuing to update the world about Gaza and what is happening.

I am not the praying kind, but I have taken to simply asking the universe, and any deities who may or may not preside within or without it, for guidance, hope, and life for those within Gaza. I don't know if this is enough, but it's what I feel I can do. If there is more, please let me know.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Anne Vis said...

Thanks for sharing, my heart goes out to you .. wishing you all strength and love ... prayers from Amsterdam

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading some of the comments to this blog, I see those who demand or ask you: "why don't you condemn Hamas?"

I am an Israeli (a very ashamed one). I have never suffered anything near what the Palestinian people are suffering. But, My eyes are wide open. I search for my information. I do not blindly and passively take in what the media and rulers feed me.

I am sitting with my 2 year old child, eating breakfast, and I hear the war planes passing above. No words of any state ruler, no Shoa (jewish holocaust) emotional extortion will change what I feel. I feel rage. rage. rage. My blood is freezing. I want to lash out at all those who are cooperating, passively and actively. I want to hit them hard. WAKE UP!!! WAKE UP!!! WAKE UP YOU DAMN FOOLS!!! HUMAN BLOOD IS IN THE STREET!!! CHILDRENS BLOOD IS IN THE STREETS!!!

I don't care about Hamas violence, it is *NOTHING* compared to Israeli terrorism.
And if you are still confused about who the real terrorists are, I invite you to listen to this awesome speech by Nobel Prize winner for literature, Harold Pinter:


12:44 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

I have no words,only prayers that somehow God will keep your family safe.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this information with us.

I become speechless when i read your posts.

may Allah protect you and your family, and inshAllah you will see the endings of it soon.

you are all in my Du'as,
your Brother, Nuh.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Fadwa said...

Thank you Gila for speaking a piece of truth on behalf of Israelis.

6:54 PM  
Blogger washi said...

Shukran Laila for sharing...your family is in my duahs...

Gila, thank you!

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm writing these words also from the Triangle, NC, USA. What is happening is a grave injustice that goes against all decency. May the Israelis be ashamed by their actions. At least now my eyes have been finally opened to the truth.

لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله

10:58 PM  
Blogger Larissa Andrioli said...

Thanks for sharing, hope your family is alright.
Brazilians are with you!

11:01 PM  
Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...


Please please please keep posting.

So little is heard of what is really happening to the Palestinians. So many of us do care and are livid at what is going on. We are very upset and very concerned and worried about the Palestinian people and the merciless slaughter brought upon them by the actions of the Israeli government.

I have been following your blog for a long time. I heard your Father on Democracy Now the other day.

I am not religious nor do I pray, but I am deeply deeply concerned and I have not stopped thinking of what is going on in Palestine. Palestinian voices are not heard. Our voices are not heard. I do not understand how HOW people can be treated like this. I do not understand how the world does not see that this is genocide. They blame Hamas but how else do you expect a desperate people to act when they are treated worse then animals? We all want peace and we want it now. But to have peace, people must be treated with respect and dignity. They must have basic essentials: food, shelter, education, work. They must be treated like people. They must be allowed to live.

Please know that many of us stand with you.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my thought and prayers are with you and the residents of Gaza.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are in my dua`a 7abibity. May Allah subhana wa tala protect you and your family and everyone in Falasteen ameen!

1:52 AM  
Blogger Safiyyah said...

As Salaamu Alaikum Sister:

Ya Allah! It broke my heart to hear your father speak! I will be saying dua for your family and for everyone there! May Allah (swt) keep you strong so you can continue to speak out and let everyone know the truth about what's really going on there.

3:00 AM  
Blogger asha said...

I am so sorry for all of you, both sides of the "line". War is terrible, no matter what. No matter who. I hope your family is well.

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an American who randomly came across your blog. I am so sorry for what is going on. I see both sides of the story, but right now, I feel this is too much for the Gaza people to take.
I know I am idealistic, but if we could live just as human beings under God, and not hold on so hard to our ethnicity. My heart hurts
for your family in Gaza.
I am inspired by the lady from Israel that wrote the kind remarks to you. Maybe there is hope for us afterall.

I will pray for the whole situation

3:34 AM  
Blogger Michael Hawkins said...

I would like to add my voice of thanksgiving for sharing this with us. I hope you don't mind -- I have posted your beautifully-reported conversation with your father at my blog, along with two other communiques from the ground in Gaza. To help spread these words far and wide -- it's the very least that we can do in making sure that the world understands what an utter atrocity this is.

May you and your family receive peace and well-being through these difficult times.


5:32 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Tussey said...

I have been following your blog for the last couple of months. I am an American and have had the pleasure of making many Palestinian friends at my University. Their friendships have meant so much to me and have given a face to what is often a poorly misunderstood conflict. Your blog gives a clear and steady voice to Gazans. I will pray for your family and hope that the violence ends soon.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you turn to history you understand that to the extent that civilians are aiding a dictator/terror organization who threatens another country, even involuntarily. The threatened country is even more fully morally justified in taking actions that might or will result in their deaths. For example, imagine in WWII that some Eastern European concentration camp prisoners are being forced to work in German munitions factories, building weapons to be used against allies. Not only is it morally justified, it is morally imperative that allies bomb that factory, regardless of possible innocent civilian deaths. Once again, the blood would entirely be on the Nazis hands.
On WWII, allies attacked Dresden. The raids saw 1,300 heavy bombers drop over 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices in four raids, destroying 13 square miles (34 km2) of the city, the baroque capital of the German state of Saxony, and causing a firestorm that consumed the city centre. Estimates of civilian casualties vary greatly, but recent publications place the figure between 24,000 and 40,000.

People in Gaza must understand that like in WWII, This time the blood is entirely on the Hamas hands.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't even know what to say. I feel so ignorant, because I had no idea it was like this.

Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope your family is safe.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Halla said...

Hi Laila, Keep up the posting. It is very important for the world to read accounts of what is going on in Gaza. I hope to God that the Gaza massacre stops soon!

Have been following your aunts blog as well and have heard her speak when she came here last year and hope that the aid reaches the hospitals as intended.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine the horror of knowing your parents and family are in danger and you can't do anything about it. I am ashamed to be a tax-paying american - feeding the war machine that is perpetuating this violence on so many innocent people like your family. I wish they would live by the guidelines of their religion and do unto others as they would like to be treated.
Why can't they see the terrible likeness to the holocaust they are creating in Gaza?

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila,

Your personal story is one of the many true stories of people who are living in an impossible condition day by day. I hope that you and your family will go through this hard time with no harm to any of your family members.

I am an Israeli who remembers many good things about not so long ago, when Israelis and Palestinians lived together side by side in almost perfect harmony. I remeber when my dad used to take me to visit his friends in Gaza. I remember the food, the hospitality and a culture that shaped some of my personality growing up in Israel. I am sure there are many like me who are missing these days - on both sides of the border.

During the past 12 years, I went through different phases in my feelings towards this conflict. There was time when I supported Israel and there was time when I supported the Palestinians. Killing of innocent people - on any side of the border - is unacceptable for me without any exceptions.

But, one thing I can tell you for sure, I ALWAYS SUPPORTED PEACE. As such, I also kept asking myself, why don't the Palestinians denounce violence and terrorism when they were so close to making great progress in getting their demands or the majority of them.
Why, instead of investing in your economy, development, schools, jobs, education and infrastructure, you selected the way of the gun. Gaza is located in one of the most beautiful beaches in this area and could attract hundred of thousands of tourists which would have made your economy much more sound and improve the people's life - much better than the guns and rockets.

I am not advocating for Israel's actions nor I am critisizing Israel. But I am pledging to the Palestinian people to step up and take the control for their life from those who bring the disaster upon you. The Hammas is not protecting you but instead is using you.

I want to visit Gaza again.... some day.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i cant even imagine what you are going through. I am praying for you and your family. i hope that your family is safe and that this war comes to end soon. God bless all of the innocent people in gaza. Your chilren are beautiful.


6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salamu Alaikum,
Thank you for sharing this..its showing people the truth of what is really happening in Gaza. My prayers go to your family and the innocent people in Palestine.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ibrahim (Chicago, Ill)
Laila, I just saw you on cnn and heard your father in gaza. A person feels so helpless and doesn't understand why no leaders have done anything yet due to the bombings in gaza. I will make du'aa not just for your family, but for anyone sufferig in palestine!

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you and your family and all the Palestinian people.
There is no justification for Israels atrocities. They already live on Palestinian soil and still want all. Greed at the cost of innocent lives and the world watches.
I am disgusted at the US attitude to this.
My heart cries just thinking about what is happening. (from Australia)

1:18 PM  
Blogger Amjad027 said...

May allah protect them against the Cruil attack.

9:49 AM  

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