Monday, January 5, 2009

Trapped, traumatized and terrorized

Laila El-Haddad writing from Durham, the United States, Live from Palestine, 4 January 2009

"My father and I made simultaneous back to back appearances on domestic CNN 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 my mother and he lay on the floor of their home, where they moved their mattress far away from the windows. Thunderous explosions ripped 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.....

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.

Six paramedics and a doctor were also killed as they tried to rescue wounded Palestinians in northern Gaza.

And now, the Associated Press 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......

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."

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