Friday, January 09, 2009

Where do you hide? The terror in Gaza continues.

"You don't know anymore; you don't know who is alive, you feel you are in a trap, you don't know who is a target" said my friend and neighbour in Gaza city, journalist Taghreed El-Khodary, the fear resonated in her voice, over the phone to Aljazeera. Taghreed lives on the street over from my parent's.

"Where to? Where can I go seek refuge to?" she continued. "I live next to the parliament which was destroyed; next to the police station, which was destroyed; next to the hospitals, which were bombed; and the Israeli navy is shelling from the sea, the F-16s from the sky, the tanks from the ground...where to?" she repeated again and again.

"First your house shakes, and the windows break, and the fear...the fear. And when you see all these children around you in the hospital. Some can draw-and what they drawing is unbelievable. A six-year old boy in my house drew a picture of boy that was alive, and another that was dead. he said the dead boy was his friend, whom the Israelis killed. And the father is unable to protect his child. And the mothers are trying to hide their fear from their kids."

My father today said more flyers were dropped in a bid to intimidate and terrorize an already bludgeoned, starved, and terrified population.

"To residents of the area" read the flyer, which my father scanned and emailed me.

"Due to the terrorist activity that terrorist elements are carrying out from your residential area against the State of Israel, the Israel Defence Force has been forced to respond immediately and operate in your residential are ordered to leave the area immediately".

Taghreed received a copy too, courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood occupying army-just out to watch your backs.

"They are dropping them everywhere- and everyone thinks its their area being targeted, but in reality, no one knows. And even if they were to leave, where do they go to? to another area where flyers were dropped and where bombs are falling? Its a tactic to induce terror and intimidation" my father told me.

For the first time in weeks, they have a few hours of precious electricity today. And things felt "normal" for a while, as they basked in bulb-light and their fridge hummed to life. They took the opportunity to chat with me on Skype. They wanted to talk to me hour after hour, all morning my time, about nothing in particular, before they were immersed in the dark and terror once again.

After speaking to his grandfather, Yousuf looked at me and asked in the inquisitive, matter-of-fact way that he usually inquires about all things small and big in this world, "mama- why don't the Israeli soldiers think before they shoot people?"

"Because they don't think like you, habibi."

Early in the day, UNRWA said it would stop operations after an aid convoy came under direct Israeli attack, and two UN drivers were killed by Israeli shells.

In the afternoon, my father learned that a family living in Gaza's Zeitun neighbourhood-the Samuni clan- who had already lost dozens of members in previous days, lost an additional 70: paramedics from the Red Cross who were finally able to reach them after days of being prevented from doing so by Israeli forces discovered bloated rotting corpses, and 4 children clinging to life, lying limp and emaciated from hunger but alive near their slaughtered mother.

Head of the Red Cross Pierre Wettach accused Israel of deliberately ignoring the besieged, dying family: "The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded."


Blogger Jill said...

Assalamu Alaykum Laila,
My heart aches, my head is tired and anxiety fills my home. Imagine what people in Gaza must feel. By the grace of Allah I have never had to experience the trauma and destruction the Palestinians have become subject to time an time again. My husbands family as we speak Inshallah our living in Gaza. Living I am not sure from hour to hour. There are many of them and many children. Alhumdallah, I have been to Gaza once with my husband and two children. His family became mine after four short weeks. I have never felt so overwhelmingly desperate. Desperate for relief of worry, desperate for the world to wake up and see the rule truth, desperate to do something to change the way society views the Israeli atrocities. I am on information overload today. I am from the Boston area and recently participated in a rally protesting Israel's war that drew about 1200 people. Not that big compared to other states and countries but Inshallah we are getting organized to do more in the Boston area. One event we will host next week is and education panel/event at the Palestinian Community Center. I have told many people I have been in touch with over the last week about your blog and what an inspiring, touching and brillant writer you are. If you had time I would appreciate you emailing me so I can ask your advice on several different matters. May Allah protect your family. Jazakallah for at least giving me a place to put this mixed bag of emotion. Salam, Jill at

4:44 AM  
Blogger suttree said...

Children are being killed and scared for life by this conflict. All in the name of either side's god. The world would be a better place without god. I am brought to tears by the news each night. I think both sides are out of their minds to place their own children in harms way in the name of god. Isreal to claim some holy land, Hamas to fight amongst its own people.

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My hope is that the world community doesn't stop their pressure just because a ceasefire happens. How the world responds during any time of peace will determine how this all will move forward.

I plan to continue to push information around as I feel it is important that we don't turn a blind eye to what Israel has done in their disregard to human life.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Dragonfly said...

Having taught English to many refugee students, it became glaringly obvious that they lost their childhood innocence. They are subjected to so much more than any adult in the free world endures in a lifetime. They have questions that no child should ever have to formulate. They learn far too much first hand. The world owes these children a more than decent future. We can only hope that UN resolutions ensure they get it.

1:58 PM  
Blogger julia said...

I am so very sorry and ashamed that the world permits this to continue

9:53 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

Thank you as always Leila. I have a question. As'ad Abu Khalil of AngryArab blog fame has been very harsh on your friend Taghreed al-Khodary's reporting. Yet what you write from her here sounds so much like the suffering of every Palestinian in Gaza. How to explain the difference between those NY Times articles and her very human reactions here? Is this entirely a case of her editors in New York deliberately mangling what she reports or forcing her to go pull demeaning quotes and unrepresentative anecdotes? Regardless, I pray for the safety of all amidst this barbarism and that the Zionists will come to see the error of their racism and accept equality for all.

1:02 AM  
Blogger ObjectiveThirdParty said...

If Gaza wants peace, stop attacking! Why blame Israel for defending itself? Help me understand because this makes no sense.

IMHO you have two choices. 1) Agree to a truce and stop firing rockets, or 2) Continue to fight until one side has been wiped out.

Israel has as much right to exist as you do, but Gaza's elected leaders have sworn to destroy Israel. Hammas seeks to bring all of the Muslim world into armed conflict with Israel. Hammas doesn't care if Gaza must be destroyed to achieve their goal!

For the children's sake, wage peace! Throw the extremists out!

5:57 PM  
Blogger Mum of Tom and Peter said...

My family's thoughts are with you and your people. We are among the many far too silent people - families, mothers, fathers and children - who want this to stop immediately but feel powerless and let down by our governments. You are in our prayers - from a mother of two boys living in London

10:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am a Christian I pray for the Children of Gaza that god protects them and covers them with his blood.
I also pray that mad men that started booming in the first place on Israel be demolished. I have no problem with Gaza people but we have to realize that there are Israel families that are dyeing too. Do you wonder who side I am on I am god’s side and what it says in my bible. Israel has put up with booming for fifty years and has seen its children die in its streets too. There is always too sides of the story, I mean no disrespect. Do know Jesus? Do know he loves you? Repent ask for forgiveness he will give you everlasting life.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Shaunna said...


My friend and I are very interested to learn more about these air dropped bomb warnings. Is there any way you could e-mail or mail me some? We want to compile a group of them. E-mail me at I found this post incredibly enlightening. Thank you so much for blogging it.


12:30 AM  

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