Tuesday, January 6, 2009

'I was just trying to protect my children'

Video: More Children Among Gaza Dead

'I keep the children away from the windows because the F-16s are in the air; I forbid them to play below because it's dangerous. They're bombing us from the sea and from the east, they're bombing us from the air. When the telephone works, people tell us about relatives or friends who were killed. My wife cries all the time. At night she hugs the children and cries. It's cold and the windows are open; there's fire and smoke in open areas; at home there's no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?' The question came from a resident of Gaza speaking by phone to the Israeli journalist Amira Hass.

Fares Akram, The Independent: The phone call came at around 4:20pm on Saturday. A bomb had been dropped on the house at our small farm in northern Gaza. My father was walking from the gate to the farmhouse at the time... The house was reduced to little more than powder, and of Dad there was nothing much left either... Most of the cows lay dead; others had run off injured. Mahmoud, a teenage relative, was with my father when the Israeli bomb smashed into the house. The force of the airstrike threw him 300 metres. They found Mahmoud's body in a neighbour's field.

We buried my father and Mahmoud yesterday morning in a very quick funeral, knowing Israeli tanks were just 3km away, on the outskirts of the city. We could hear the rattle of the machine-gun fire accompanying the tanks. The Israelis may say there were militants in the area of our farm, but I'll never believe it... Up at the border, it is just open farmland with nowhere to hide.

My father, Akrem al-Ghoul, was no militant. Born in Gaza and educated in Egypt, he was a lawyer and a judge... My grief carries no desire for revenge, which I know to be always in vain. But, in truth, as a grieving son, I am finding it hard to distinguish between what the Israelis call terrorists and the Israeli pilots and tank crews who are invading Gaza. What is the difference between the pilot who blew my father to pieces and the militant who fires a small rocket? I have no answers, but, just as I am about to become a father, I have lost my father.

The Guardian: Among the terrorised was Mahmoud Jaro. He was sheltering with his wife and four young children at his home in Beit Lahiya, on the eastern side of the Gaza Strip, within sight of the Israeli border, when he heard the first tank engines in the early hours of Sunday. He grabbed his children, the youngest only three, and fled. 'I couldn't see anything. The area was dark. They cut off the electricity. We were moving in the pitch dark. There were shells, rockets everywhere. I was just trying to protect my children. They were very scared and afraid. My youngest son was crying all the time.' Eventually the family made it across Beit Lahiya to his in-laws' house in a relatively safer part of the town. 'I don't know what's going on. I don't know what the Israelis want. This time it's from the air, the sea, the ground at the same time. I've never experienced it like this.'

Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online: Hamas and Hizbullah did not exist before around 1982. Their birth and strength must be understood largely as a response to Israel's occupation and colonization policies in Palestine and Lebanon... Hamas and Hizbullah are the ideological step-children of the Likud Party and especially Ariel Sharon, whose embrace of violence, racism and colonization as the primary means of dealing with occupied Arab populations ultimately generated a will to resist... The more force and brutality Israel uses against Arabs, the greater is the response in the form of more effective resistance movements that have wider public support.
Image source here.