Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What do you tell your daughter?

Another day, another massacre, more diplomatic deliberation, more silence, more complicity.

The invasion on Gaza has been mentally exhausting. I have tried my best to overcome this feeling of impotence by channeling the energy to action- though we may be powerless to change a government's heinous actions on our own, together our voices rise far above, farther than we can ever imagine.

Last night we capped of our night with the latest hour of coverage on Aljazeera English, which was reporting on how the UN had made shelters out of its schools for those internally displaced.

"I am getting a bad feeling about this- I wouldn't be surprised if this shelter was bombed" I told Yassine.

We woke up in the morning to the heart-rending news, as I rushed to make Noor's pediatrician appointment on time, my mind not quite here.

I then appeared on Canadian Broadcasting live with my father.

The anchor asked why my mom father was still in Gaza City. He replied it was his home, and no one would kick him out of it. I emphasized that even for those who did want to flee for safety, there was no where to flee to- the borders are hermetically sealed, the sea and sky under total blockade.

"Is there anything you'd like to tell your daughter?" the anchor concluded by asking.

"What do I tell her? I honestly don't know if I'll live from one hour to the next," my father replied. "She keeps asking me to describe the casualties for her that I'm seeing; but I can't. What should I tell her? That I've seen bodies with my own eyes reduced to nothing more than pieces of black flesh?"

My father went on to describe accounts of Palestinians being used as human shields-by the Israelis. The Israeli military has been forcing families out of their homes and making them scope out buildings and rooms for the army to enter and for their snipers to nest in. It is a practice they have used before-in Rafah, where i personally reported on it during Operation Rainbow in 2004, in Jenin, and in Nablus in 2007 (where a young girl and boy were abused) . Btselem has said that "Israeli soldiers routinely used Palestinian civilians as human shields by forcing them to carry out life-threatening military tasks", despite an Israeli High Court Order prohibiting the practice.

He went on to speak of the massacre at the UN school turned shelter, which had just occurred, reminding people that these same Palestinians in may cases by the Israeli army to leave their homes through robocalls and other forms of intimidation; then bombed in the only safe place they could find.

I asked if he had gone out at all- he said my mother has not left the house in days, but that they needed some tomatoes to cook supper with. "the stores are empty-there is very little on the shelves; and the Shanti bakery had something like 300 people waiting in line."

Surprisingly, he said people are trying to go on with their lives. It is the mundane and ordinary that often save your sanity, help you live through the terror. It is no small thing to endure: knowing that both in deliberateness and scope, it is an unprecedented modern-day assault against an occupied, stateless people-most of them refugees.

How many more massacres until the human consciousness awakens?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"we may be powerless to change a government's heinous actions on our own"

Well, you can vote against Hamas at least. I guess it might be hard to campaign against them openly though since they might just have you tortured or killed.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, boo hoo!

Why aren't you in Gaza standing with your Hamas people, Laila?

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel has called Gazans and told them to tell hamas no--they have told them" No more rockets into IsrAel--No more Hamas agression against Israel--still Hamas launches rockets against Israel, as it did the day before Israel started it's offensive against Gaza---I hope Israel wipe's Gaza off the map, just as it pledged to do, against Israel--Go Israel!!--Charley Daniel

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should stand up and tell your militants to stop firing from schools if you don't want them to be hit by return fire. I have never seen any nation use their children as cannon fodder outside of the Palestinians. It seems they purposely DRAW fire at them. Why is this? My kids would be kept as far away from anyone that was fighting so they might actually be safe.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you all, god protect palestine.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that must happen for peace to come to the Gaza, is for Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist and to stop sending missles into Israel. As a Palestinian you could live peacefully in Israel, with full voting rights, etc., as you have when you are in the U.S. Can you imagine what life would be for an Israeli trying to live in Gaza? The Palestinians will not have peace until they begin to love their children more than they hate the Israelis.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope gaza's palestine people get peace. Many South Korean hope palestine's peace. We all hate war and massive assault

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You truly give me inspiration and the true news. I was surprised that CNN even aired you. I feel your pain. I support the cause. Keep up the great work. Ill pray for your dad. Inchallah everything will be fine soon. I just wish the USA would just show the truth. Keep your head up and inchallah things will get better.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila, my thoughts and hopes are with your family in Gaza. I hope this nightmare would end soon.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read about Nablus sis, maybe that was from you. Masha Allah, you are so courageous--and your family. May Allah give you better, ameen.
Subhanallah. My word verification is "bless"

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asala'am aleikum rahmahtuallah, laila. may Allah bless you and your family and give you the strength to find something meaningful in all of this. I pray for the Palestinians in every prayer, as I pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan and any place where Muslim/Muslima are targeted. I pray that Allah will "wake up" the giant here in the Middle East and that our kings and government will come together to give a proper solution for our bothers and sisters in Palestine. I know it is not just Palestinian Muslims, but also Christians who are targeted. This point needs to be made to the world, as well, because ignorant media viewers are seeing this as a Jew vs. Muslim thing, and if the world knew that Israel is also targeting Christians, I think we may see a little bit more vocalism and some move to action against Israel. For all I know, there may also be Palestinian Jews. Palestine is for all Palestinians regardless of their religious orientation. I wish i could actually do something. Peace be upon you all.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wickedness of what is going on is beyond comprehension. I cannot imagine a crueller pain to endure than to watch your children suffer like this. I hope your beautiful children and you and all your family are kept safe. If it is any consolation at all, I think the world is starting to see the reality now of what Palestinians are dealing with.

3:23 PM  
Blogger hillsideslide said...


Thank you for reading and posting my last comment. Don't feel you need to post this one.

For your daughter, Mister Rogers (Mister Rogers Neighborhood) would say: "LOOK FOR THE HELPERS"

When bad things happen, there are always many people who rush in to give aid and comfort. Look for them.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us your story.

I am lost for words and can think of very little to say to to you to offer any hope.

All I can say is that the world is waking up and finally starting to ay attention to Israeli collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

For myself, I have been following this situation for years and am in regular contact with my political representatives in my national government and in the European parliament demanding that the EU abandon the sickening proposal for closer relationships with Israel, and instead push for a boycott and isolation of Israel until it learns to live within the norms of civilised behaviour.

Please, please, stay strong, stand up for what is right, and keep telling us what is happening.

We are watching.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Once again you've written a post that's brought tears to my eyes. As hard as this is to read, I'm glad you are... more people need to read this, to hear what's happening.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is useless for their material needs, but I wish there was a way of getting messages of our support to the people of Gaza. Here we are looking for channels to do so through the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. I hope you will tell your parents that in London, UK, we have been marching, we have been phoning and emailing our politicians constantly, we are donating money to MAP and the Red Crescent and we are almost tearing our hair out in frustration that we cannot do more. We are transfixed in horror by the news on TV, internet, newspapers. We are thinking constantly of Gaza. I am sorry it doesn't help the Gazans.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Marsha N said...

I am an activist/mom in Brooklyn. I have marched twice with my 2yr old daughter against the occupation and war on Gaza in the last few weeks. I read your blog and every day I shed tears--tears of great sadness and despair and of frustration too because while we need to march and speak out against this latest act of terrorism on the Palestinian people, I wish we could stop it NOW. But I tell my daughter that war is wrong, I go on being an activist in the various movements I am involved in and I tell her to care and love and agitate for a better world. And I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate the solid information you are providing and that I cannot begin to imagine the pain you are feeling. Solidarity and peace--Marsha N.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Essalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah,

I don't know what there is to say. How many times will this happen before people wake up? I think I'm most frustrated with the Mulsims in the region, the governments specifically...

May Allah protect all the Palestianians and may you find some peace in your Iman. A big salaam to all of your family and friends in Gaza. I will not stop making dua'a for you all.

Your sister,

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. I hope your parents are OK. We are praying for everyone's safety. As a U.S. mother myself, I have shed many tears and said many prayers over this. The pictures of dead and injured children have been emotionally devastating. And I have openly shared them with my seven and five year old, for I am raising them as children of this world, whose hearts will know no boundaries. As for hate mail that you get, screw those people. Nobody has time to deal with those idiots. They are stupid.

I feel for those children who are not allowed the basic privilege and right to be children, to go outside their homes and play a game of marbles.
Thank you again for allowing us to get an inside view into what it really is - an act of terrorism by a country against refugees that really don't have anything to defend themselves with. I have faith in God and know that justice will be handed out one day, but we still must speak out and do something. What can I do from here in the U.S.?

6:31 PM  
Blogger Dragonfly said...

Stay strong and get some rest Laila, you're family needs you. You are serving your parents well via this blog, interviews and presence in demonstrations. You can't continue to help them if you are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Your parents can't take a break, but you must not feel guilty for taking time out to regain energy.
Progress is frustratingly slow, it will never be as swift as it needs to be and we all knew this would be the case. But i do believe I am seeing hints of progress. It's a start. The final solution will hopefully be a better one that previously, a much better one. It is what I hope for. My thoughts and heart are with the people of Gaza and you.

Take care Laila.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this whole war is is said that the palestinians are the jews of the muslim the jews are the jews of the western world...both peoples are the smartest and the most talented and yet are the most forsaken..clearly the muslim world has forsaken the palestinians...even before hammas came around...and now it stands idly by lip service..and nothing else..while innocent children are being killed..hows this for an idea....after the truce is put into guys both the israelis and the palestinians...stop the hate speech and look at the can all do so much better if you all join together...and can find a way to live in peace....disregard the fringe wackos on both sides...and get it all together....wouldnt that be wonderfull

7:32 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

I have always stood up for the Palestinians, just out of common sense. I had no Idea Israel was using people as human shields. I looked it up and saw the report the BBC did in 2007 about it. I have come to look at foreign media on this situation, because I can't trust what the US reports.

If they consider Hamas a terrorist organization b/c they use Gaza as a huge human shield, then they need to consider Israel a terrorist organization as well.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ms. Laila El-Haddad,
My name is Mieke Van Eyck. I live in Belgium. I'm working on an article about the family life in the Gaza-strip. I wondered if I could ask you some questions for my article. If you're interested, you can contact me on the E-mailadress . Al the contact wil be made by e-mail. I would be honoured if you could help me. Already thanks for reading this comment, and hope to hear from you soon.

Sincere greetings,

Mieke Van Eyck

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I watched the news last night with my husband, i cannot helped it but just to cry... my heart with all the Palestinians. May Allah protect them especially the innocent childrens. Hope this will end soon..

Your sister -Ramlah

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should post this link on your blog!

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is very sad, in Brazil we are praying for you Palestinians. God bless you

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless Gaza children!!!

10:14 PM  
Blogger Howiecopywriter said...

Yes it is a sad situation, that I have started to cover in and I hope there is a ceasefire immediately.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello from Paris
I am so sad when I see all the awful pictures on al jazeera. It's a pity I can't do anything...
In Paris we will demonstrate next Saturday at 3 pm.
We are with you we support you!
Keep faith!

10:41 PM  
Blogger Anne Vis said...

I can imagine how the situation is exhausting you and of course all those in Gaza and the families ... I am not sure what to say, but I do send you and all Palestinian people my love ...

10:58 PM  
Blogger Birger said...

To all you...who support Isreal; hope you wake up some day and see how wrong you are about this. Sorry that you have to live with your meanings. Nothing more to say to you.....

1:48 AM  
Blogger Кэтрин said...

It saddens me so much that so many people are trying to justify the murder of innocent children. They say that there is no way that Israel would fire upon the UN school unless they were provoked.

However, from CNN today:

"U.N. sure no Palestinian militants fired from school hit by Israeli attack"

There is a reason no journalists are being let into Gaza. If people see the full picture, there is no way they could continue to blindly support the genocidal actions against the people in Gaza.

Peace to you and your family.

1:51 AM  
Blogger incalculable said...

I'm sad to see all the misinformation coming from ANONYMOUS commenters on this thread - every news report I have read has been very clear that Israeli claims that sniper fire was coming from the school has not been verified by any independent source because Israel will not permit journalists to enter Gaza. These anonymous commenters also seem to have a very limited grasp on history - Hamas did not come out of a vacuum. Yes,their tactics are highly questionable, but Israel's retaliation is downright immoral. Citizens of the world must demand that the violence stops - on all sides. Enough is enough.

Laila, I just found your blog in the past week, but I have been reading it every day as one of the only sane and informed perspectives on these events that I have found. My thoughts are with you and your family. Thank you so much for your lucid, intelligent and honest writing.

1:56 AM  
Blogger mali whitten said...

Judaism and Christianity forbids the sacrifice of children. This imperative has biblical roots in the Old Testament. Radical Palestinian Islam encourages the sacrifice
(martyrdom) of their own children. You teach them and train them to kill and die. What kind of a sick evil society are you?

2:41 AM  
Blogger eradically said...

I commend you, Leila, for your constant efforts in making the Palestinian voice heard amidst the vicious lies and propogranda that is spewed agianst us. Justice will prevail in Palestine and for all oppressed people in the world.

3:51 AM  
Blogger said...

Excessive. Clear the school room by room if you believe there is a sniper.

Don't fire a missile at a school full of children.

I had supported Israel to that point. Now this must stop. Not because they are wrong to defend themselves - but because they are incapable of doing so without harming innocents.

Armies make mistakes. Bombs land in places they were not aimed.

Who here would fire a missile at a school full of children because you think there is a sniper there? Who here would consider that the decision of a professional soldier protecting his or her homeland?

4:04 AM  
Blogger Greek Nostos said...

You are my link to the true story of the war in Gaza. Everything is getting filtered through the US media. I got very upset yesterday when the tv commercials "to support Israel" started showing on 15 minute intervals on most tv stations (at least in the North East US). I felt I had to take some action. So, I forwarded your blog link to my entire 700 name strong e-mail list. The response within a few hours was tremendous, and many more people are now reading your posts. Keep your strength, your faith and hope. We are all praying for you.

4:08 AM  
Blogger mali whitten said...

Thank you for your wishes. I suggest you google "Farfur"and take a look on UTube. See for yourself what the Palestinians teach their PRESCHOOL children. If you honestly believe what you wrote to me, you will be stunned.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Amalina said...

This link is for anonymous, americans and others who don't know...., written by Alison Weir (info on her http://video. videoplay? docid=5178412241 466342705) who is an American citizen, used to be a journalist for a California based newspaper and resigned after she unearthed the truth about the Palestinian- Israeli 'issues' and is currently active in reporting about the abovementioned issues. and,something from inside Gaza.

4:29 AM  
Blogger The Optimistic Therapist (in training) said...

peace just might be out of reach for the Middle East because Israel acts like god and demands the rights of the Israelis. I have studied the conflict and while hamas is wrong for attacking Israel, what hamas has only done 1 tenth of what Israel has done to the palestinian people. I truely wish for peace, but I fear that is impossible as long as Israel is allowed to do what they want to the palestinians.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Bryan Katz said...

I'll ask this as humanely as possible. If Hamas can smuggle rockets and explosives into Gaza, why can't they devote that time and effort to bringing in food, medicine, and school supplies? Has it ever crossed your mind that Hamas will never stand for Palestinian prosperity or coexistence with Israel? Once Hamas is shattered and not allowed to regroup or rearm, life in Gaza will improve in a hurry.
As a Jew, I say in all honesty that I wish only good for people like you and your family.
I think everyone who wants peace will agree that the sooner Hamas is out of the picture,the better.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Marcel Dubois said...

If Hamas can smuggle rockets and explosives into Gaza, why can't they devote that time and effort to bringing in food, medicine, and school supplies?
Actually the tunnels funneling those things -food, medicine- have been destroyed by Israel. And Hamas has been involved in life-support activities. This is why Israel destroys schools and hospitals. Because they are part of the basis of Hamas popularity. Hamas organized police, hospitals, and stuff like this. Maybe they killed civilians, but when you're threatened by a nuclear-armed country and you want protection, you're not going to exercise your judgement as much as you would normally.

Has it ever crossed your mind that Hamas will never stand for Palestinian prosperity or coexistence with Israel? Once Hamas is shattered and not allowed to regroup or rearm, life in Gaza will improve in a hurry.
Such an analysis is completely absurd. I'm sorry, but Hamas' popularity will only grow now. Your country just killed more than 600 hundred people, Palestinians will side with Hamas, no matter how extreme it is, because of patriotism. They will think it's about survival, and they won't exercise their judgement.
As for how life in Gaza would improve, should Hamas 'disappear', which it won't because it's impossible given the current conditions, this is also a naive assumption.
Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than a year. Your country doesn't care in the least about the well-being of Palestinians. It cares solely about their submission to its demands.
Also, Hamas has stopped firing rockets during the cease-fire, as the stats from your own Ministry of Interior show. They resumed after Israel killed 6 members of Hamas on november 4th.
Israel killed Hamas members, because it needed a pretext to launch the current war.

If you want Hamas to go away, let the Palestinians be free, completely free, completely happy. Then they'll be free to exercise their judgement and Hamas will get back to the margins where extremism is supposed to be.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

Dear littlehorn

You wrote…

"Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than a year. Your country doesn't care in the least about the well-being of Palestinians. It cares solely about their submission to its demands."

Isn’t Egypt the one that has blockaded its border with Gaza?

"Hamas has stopped firing rockets during the cease-fire, as the stats from your own Ministry of Interior show. They resumed after Israel killed 6 members of Hamas on November 4th.

Israel killed Hamas members, because it needed a pretext to launch the current war.”

Where do you get your facts?

Hamas has fired over 150 rockets during the truce.

Who is walking around using Gaza children as Human shields these days?

Please read before commenting.

Wishing peace for all

7:32 AM  
Blogger NY said...

Salam alaykum.

Dear sister, i am from malaysia and I felt helpless about what happened in Palestine. The least i can do is spread the words around - how bad things in Palestine is, so that, at least we can get more muslim (ie Us - far from palestine) to boycott israeli's product. I'm spreading the link to ur blog around. I hope you dont mind.

Jazakumullahu khair.

May Allah protects you with His might.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Ajay Garg said...

Laila, I had mentioned you and your blog in a post on my blog. It is about Israeli attacks on innocent people. The post is in Hindi, so you will not be able to understand, but you can surely see it. You will have to go to I am a journalist myself and am from India. I had earlier written a comment on this post of yours.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Marcel Dubois said...

Isn’t Egypt the one that has blockaded its border with Gaza?
What part of "Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than a year" don't you understand ? Sure Israel had Egypt do the same on the southern border, thanks to Mubarak.

So what ?

Where do you get your facts?
Hamas has fired over 150 rockets during the truce.

In this instance, I'm getting the facts from Israel.
The graph is there.
You will see that almost no rockets were fired, until november, that is, after Israel attacked Hamas (on nov 4th, you can check it) and, as could only to be expected, Hamas resumed the firing of rockets in retaliation.

And as Laila has just shown, the attack of Gaza was planned months ahead.

So a narrative clearly appears: Israel saw the very small number of rockets, and provoked Hamas into resuming the previous levels, so as to gain a pretext to launch the attacks they had already decided months ago.

Who is walking around using Gaza children as Human shields these days?
As was said many times over, Gaza is a very densely populated area. It is impossible to stand in one place without there being children nearby.
It is Israelis who pull the trigger, therefore, Israelis who are responsible.
You have a choice not to engage in evil deeds. You can treat people with love and care, you can give them freedom, and happiness.
Treat them like brothers, the rest will follow.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Sônia said...

God bless you all, god protect Palestine.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Laila,

My sister, a stay at home mom of two small children got her video camera out last week and recorded a letter, as a citizen, to President-elect Obama protesting the killings in Gaza. Here's the link:

She is asking everyone to make protest videos and post them on youtube with the title: "Obama Protest Gaza". I'm making mine soon.
All the best,

2:42 AM  

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