I have read several accounts over the last few
days of how life in Southern Israel has become unbearable for the people
living there. In retaliation for the latest provocation by Israel over
200 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Eleven people were injured,
one seriously. Most were suffering from "shock." Two were injured when
they tripped on the way to secure areas.
Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon
on Thursday said, "Anyone threatening us is risking his life. We will
retaliate until they beg us to stop."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said
Israel makes its "best effort to target terrorists and not the civilian
population," but added: "We will not accept the constant disruption of
life in the south of Israel, and I advise all heads of terror to think
well about their actions."
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria
Nuland condemned "in the strongest terms" the rocket fire from Gaza into
southern Israel. "We call on those responsible to take immediate action
to stop these cowardly acts," she said in a statement Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
condemned the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Meeting with opposition
leader Tzipi Livni in New York, Clinton said Israel has the right to
Why is it that the Palestinians have no
right to respond to Israeli aggression? If rocket fire into Israel is a
"cowardly" act, what exactly is bombing with F-16's and drones into Gaza? Why does
Israel have a right to defend itself, but no such rights extend to the
With the exception of the two men Israel
assassinated on Friday -- Zuhair al-Qaisy, secretary-general of the
Popular Resistance Committees, and Mahmoud Ahmad Al-Hanini, a Hamas
military leader -- the Palestinians killed remained nameless in all
mainstream media accounts.
But I assure you, those killed have names, and each has a family that grieves for them.
Adel Alessy, 61-years-old, was
working as a watchman on a piece of farmland. Saleh, his son, said
people came to his house to tell him his father had been killed in an
air strike on Sunday morning. "My father was known by all the people in
this area and everyone liked him," said Saleh. "He was working hard,
trying to feed his family." He added, "There were no rockets shot from
the farm that day. The Israelis know that, but they wanted to do this
crime to prevent our farmers from working on their land."
Adel's brother Mohammed added, "He worked
hard his entire life, and he never refused to help anyone who asked for
help." Adel Alessy is survived by his wife and seven children.
On Tuesday morning Muhammed Mostafa
El-Hasami, 72-years-old, and his daughter Fayza,
35-years-old, went to spend the day planting at their small
farm. Dr Abed Allalah, his son, explains, "My father was a teacher as
well as a farmer for the past 40 years." Two rockets were fired from the
adjoining property. One rocket failed and crashed into a greenhouse,
starting a fire. Abed says, "My father and sister went to put out the
fire when an Israeli drone targeted them. When we heard the bombing, we
went to see what happened and found both my father and sister on the
ground in pieces. Fayza's mother heard her last words, "I am dying." Her
husband died within minutes of arriving at the hospital.
Adel told me, "Israel must be pressured to
stop targeting innocent civilians. They must stop killing women,
children, and old men. I believe Israel knows they are killing innocent
people but they don't care, because no one in the world is confronting
them." A wife, three sons and four daughters remain to grieve the loss
of a beloved father and sister.
Um Mohammed, the mother of 12-year-old
Ayoub Asalya told me how her son was afraid when the air strikes began,
and how he slept restlessly by her side the night before his death.
Before he left for school he bargained with his mother. She would buy
new sandals for him and he'd buy her a gift on mother's day. A few
minutes after he left the house his mother heard an explosion.
She found Ayoub's cousin, Wafi, face down
in the street. Ayoub's body was found less than 50 yards from the
house in the orchard, under a lemon tree. One of the neighbors said he
couldn't recognize Ayoub. Um Mohammed said, "I can't imagine my son, who
I was just talking with, lying in pieces." Both legs were severed. One
leg was not recovered.
A breeze rustles through the lemon trees.
Um Mohammed picks a lemon from a tree that is splattered with Ayoub's
blood. Shreds of his clothing lie scattered on the ground. "The
Israeli's claimed they targeted fighters," she said, "Do they think
Ayoub was shooting rockets? Where are the human rights of the
Palestinian people?" Ayoub was the third child of Um Mohammed killed by
the Israelis. "Now who will bring me a gift on Mothers day?" she asks.
The injured also have names, dreams, and
memory. I was unable to lift my camera to record their injuries, but
stood alongside them, silent. A friend did document the injured. You can
view photographs of them here
No one was crying. Their injuries were severe. Moath Abo al-Eash,
20-years-old, suffered burns to his face and hands, smoke
inhalation, and shrapnel wounds to his chest, torso, hands and face.
When asked what message he would like to send to the world, he said, "My
picture is enough to tell the world."
But I am afraid it is not enough. The
Clintons, Nulands, Yalons, and Liebermans of the world are not so easily
swayed. The human misery they inflict on Palestine and the rest of the
world does not influence their political calculations. They have the
power, the money, the sophisticated weapons, and a complicit media. But I
can also tell you this; the Palestinian people bear their burden with
dignity. Like the people of Libya, the people of Egypt, the people of
Bahrain, the people of Syria, and people around the world, they demand
They will never beg.
I have traveled to Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza and Afghanistan to bear witness and document the suffering of people
who are affected by war. I advocate for reconciliation and nonviolent
strategies in the face of (more...