Monday, December 29, 2008

The rains of death in Gaza

Originally uploaded by activestills

Arafat Hawadja, 20, is evacuated after he was injured from live ammunition shot by Israeli soldiers during a solidarity protest with the people in Gaza in the west bank village of Nilin. On the way to the hospital he died.
Photo by: Keren Manor/

The rains of death in Gaza

Originally posted on

We woke up this morning to the news in Gaza. It seems we always wake up to news there- so its become a matter of perspective how bad the news is each time; how remote it seems each time; how real or not; how severe-and whether the severity warrants an "international outcry" or whether the animals can continue to fester in their cages for a while longer.

We received a call from my in-laws in Lebanon's Baalbeck refugee camp at an early hour, checking in on my family in Gaza, since they cannot call them directly. We call my parents. My father does not answer. We call his mobile- we reach him. He has just returned from Shifa hospital- we hold our breaths.

"We are OK. We went to donate blood and to see if they needed any help" says my father, a retired surgeon.

"I was out in the souk when the strikes began- I saw the missiles falling and prayed; the earth shook; the smoke rose; the ambulances screamed" he said, the sirens audible in the background. he was on talateeni street at the time of the attacks, just a few streets down from one of the attack sites.

My mother was in the Red Crescent Society clinic near the universities at the time of the initial wave of attacks, where she works part-time as a pediatrician. Behind the clinic was one of the police centers that was leveled. She said she broke down at first, the sheer proximity of the attacks having shaken her from the inside out. After she got a hold of herself, they took to treating injured victims of the attack, before they transferred them to Shifa hospital.

There, she said, medical supplies were in short supply: face masks, surgical gloves, gowns...

My parents live in the the city center, and the Israeli war planes attacked people and locations all around them. Over 50 "targets"by 60 warplanes, read the headlines in Haaretz. And over 220 killed- in broad daylight; in the after-school rush.

Like a movie tagline. Or a game. If you say it enough times, it does not sound real anymore: 50 targets, 60 warplanes, 200 people, 1 day.

All very sanitary. Very sleek. Neatly packaged: war in a gift-box.

"There is a funeral passing every minute. The bodies are piling up." Gaza's air is saturated with the smell of burning human flesh. There is panic, as one would imagine dogs would panic in an overcrowded cell when several of their own are violently, abruptly killed. But dead dogs-in a cage, no less, would create an outcry.

The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, we watch. and silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death onto Gaza? Egypt; the United States; Israel...

And it will all seem, in the end of the day, that they are somehow a response to something. As though the situation were not only acceptable- but normal, stable, in the period prior to whatever this is a response to. As though settlements did not continue to expand; walls did not continue to extend and choke lands and lives; families and friends were not dislocated; life was not paralyzed; people were not exterminated; borders were not sealed and food and light and fuel were in fair supply.

But it is the prisoners' burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration. They deviated. But nevertheless, there are concerns for the "humanitarian situation": as long as they do not starve, everything is ok. Replenish the wheat stocks immediately.

The warden improves the living conditions now and then, in varying degrees of relatively, but the prison doors remain sealed. And so when there are 20 hours of power outages in a row, the prisoners wish that they were only 8; or 10; and dream of the days of 4.

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