Sunday, March 11, 2012

As the Bombs Drop Over Gaza

I had planned for my next post to be about the incredibly fantastic and successful Christ at the Checkpoint conference that the Bible College put on last week, but that is going to have to wait, because unfortunately, there is something more urgent that needs to be spoken about.

How many of you know that right now, as I am writing this, bombs are being dropped on Gaza? How many of you know that Jabaliya Refugee Camp has been a target of this Israeli bombing? How many of you know that 17 Palestinians have been killed, including a 12 year old boy, and over 40 have been injured? (Update: latest reports as of Wednesday, March 14th indicate at least 26 dead [the most recent being 7 year-old Baraka Al-Mughrabi] and over 80 injured - mostly women and children.)

Palestinians women react during the funeral of 12 year old Ayoub Assalya killed in an Israeli airstrike in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip, Sunday, March 11, 2012. The worst round of violence in more than a year between Israel and Gaza Strip Palestinians deepened Sunday with deadly Israeli airstrikes.
The whole thing began on Friday, when Israel dropped bombs in a (successful) attempt to assassinate Zuhair al-Qaissi, a Palestinian resistance leader. After his death, militants from Gaza retaliated by firing rockets onto the Israeli side, and things have escalated from there. The extremist groups of resistors are no match for the Israeli Defense Force; one side has a few rockets that they can shoot into the mostly empty southern Israeli desert, the other is capable of leveling the entire country.

A Palestinian tries to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday.

Even though Israel started the bombing, even though there was probably a better way to assassinate someone than to rain bombs down on their country's hospitals and schools and refugee camps, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the people of Gaza will take the blame for this. Gaza does not have multi-billion dollar Public Relations spin machines like Israel and the US, Israel's number one supporter. The only thing Gaza has are the small voices, like mine, saying "We are in this land. We are on the ground. We are seeing what is being done. Friends, family, please CARE about this! These people matter. These lives matter. These are your brothers and sisters who are being slaughtered. These are Children of God who are being murdered. Please, care."

But my heart breaks as I realize that it's not enough. It's never enough. My voice is not loud enough. My presence, not powerful enough. I cannot change the world, and I cannot solve this conflict. I cannot stop the bombs from raining down on these precious people. Together, we could. A public outcry, would. But the world remains silent as terrified Gazans sit in their homes and pray that God will spare their children.

Imagine if this was happening in your country. In your state. In your town. Imagine the pain and the terror that you would be feeling. Imagine how desperately you would want the world to speak out in order to end your suffering. Imagine your devastation when no one said a word.

I want to share this letter written on Friday by Waleed al-Meadana, a 21 year old student in Gaza. I think it resonates more deeply than anything I could even begin to articulate.

A letter from Gaza under attack

by Waleed al-Meadana

March 9, 2012

I am writing to all people of the world in solidarity with the oppressed and suppressed around the world. Right here, in Gaza, right now, being under attack, I have no place to polish my language; I have no time to choose my words. I am just being spontaneous, for every second counts. One hour later, I may have no chance to write you, lest being dead -- I have the same things in mind now all Gazans have. (I am Gazan at the end of the day).

The only thing I hear is the bombs; it is not too far away. At some point, the dead were 3. Some few minutes later, they were 6. One minute after, they were 7. And time is still counting! How many do you think they would get by the time I finish writing this or you finish reading it ?! Ambulances, rushing in the haunting streets, are also heard. I, like all the poor living things here, can feel the shakes, resulted from the bombs. Fear is easy to notice on the eyes of the children; they, however, show toughness and challenge that they never cry and they speak up their minds. It has been reported that 3 more people were killed in an Israeli raid, hitting the Palestinian legislative council.

The names of the dead are aired now: Moatasem, Fayyeq, Shadi, etc. But it does not matter any longer, for what keeps my mind busy now is "Who is next? What next? When is this all over?"—I wish I could think of an exact answer. Many thoughts are popping to one's mind at these moments: family, friends, poor people, the lovely past, the bitterly present and the bleak future. But we never lose hope of a better life. And a better future. While I was lost in such thoughts, dad asked me about the first name one of my friends has. He was actually listening to the radio when the dead were named. I felt like my heart jumped up to my throat. I panicked!
‏I will sleep, though I am being bombed. I will have some sleep, though I am being terrified. And I will dream of a better tomorrow.

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