Counting for the new year:

END the Occupation of Palestine NOW.

Break the Siege of Gaza

Break the Siege of Gaza
The siege is a genocide and don't say you didn't know

Monday, December 4, 2006

“Rain Man”

Everyone is asking me why I haven't been writing lately.

It is very difficult to write these days. I feel that we are trapped from outside and inside. Because of the events which have taken place here over the last few weeks I did not even have the chance to enjoy my family reunion. But I will try to describe how we are living these days. There are different issues but they are all connected to the Israelis and their unjust attacks on us.

I often feel that we are living in a concentration camp during the Second World War. We are living in a camp with two gates controlled by the Israelis, Erez and Rafah. We have our own leaders in this camp who are trying to keep some order despite the policies of the commanders outside. Certain amounts of basic needs are permitted to be brought into the camp.

We are attacked regularly and systematically by the commanders outside. We are hunted, killed, arrested, our homes are demolished, our livelihoods as well, our infrastructure, even the trees are destroyed. All that is missing is the famous striped suit which was given to the inmates of the camps during the Second World War.

"Rain Man" immediately comes to mind - the famous film of 1988 with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Hoffman received an Oscar for his performance in this role. No, I am not talking about the film which I loved so much and viewed more than ten times in cinemas or when I could see it on television. I am talking about the name of one of the operations of the Israeli army in the south of the Gaza Strip which took place last week. The result was more than ten martyrs and around 100 wounded people. Children were included in both categories.

I wonder whether Dustin Hoffman, whom I respect very much, as do many people around the world, knows about this military operation. I would be curious to know his reaction. What would he say? How would he react? Would he sue the Israeli army for stealing the film's name and connecting it with the inhuman, unjust, brutal, barbaric actions against civilians, infrastructure, trees, animals, against almost everything?

Internal fights between Fateh and Hamas in the streets of Gaza Strip was another scene last week in Gaza. It is terrible, yes. No Palestinian agrees with this conflict. But what do we expect from 1.5 million people imprisoned in a big jail with no financial resources, no direct contact with the outside world and attacked day and night by the Israelis? Any other people living under circumstances similar to ours for such a long time would be worse. It is the logical outcome of this policy – that we will turn against each other.

Luai, now has new dictionary: he knows the difference between a pistol and a machine gun, a tank and a truck, he knows the difference between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian police. He knows that the Israeli army is attacking us, bombing and killing even children. "Mummy, do the Palestinian soldiers feel afraid when there is bombing? Do they run away?" He asked me a couple of days ago when he was having breakfast before going to his kindergarten. There was a sound like bombing; it turned out to be the thunder because it rained after that. So now he knows the difference between bombing and thunder.

Ramadan is about to finish. Usually, Ramadan is the month where the most is consumed in the Islamic countries. This year was the worst for the Palestinians. Our economy has been almost completely destroyed. Employees in the public sector have not received their salaries for months now. One can see hardly any shoppers in the markets of Gaza now. The last days of Ramadan were usually full of people purchasing goods for the Feast (Eid) following Ramadan. These days are usually full of joy, mainly among children who usually are able to buy new clothes and receive presents and money at this time. This year it is very sad. The markets are empty of buyers; many young men are touring the markets but only looking and unable to buy anything. The shops are almost empty of any new goods because of the continuous closure imposed on the Strip by the Israelis. The insecurity, internal and external, felt in the streets of Gaza does not allow people to go out as usual.

The electricity problem is getting worse and influences the behavior of people. Everyone is tense and can get into a fight with anyone, anywhere, at home, at work or in the streets. Life’s routine has changed. Sleeping hours, eating hours, bathing hours, reading hours, all this has changed and it is more difficult when you don’t have a schedule to follow. So electricity is still one of the first things we talk about in the morning at the office. Each one tells us how many hours of electricity she had the day before at home and what she was able to do with it. One colleague said that she heats candles now. "I used to light candles when I had a romantic dinner with my husband, but now I light them and I haven’t felt like having romantic evenings any more for ages.”

There is a rumor in the Strip that the electricity problem will be solved this week before the Feast (Eid). Everyone is talking about this and daydreaming about the things we would do when we go back to normal life. Not forgetting, of course, that this normal life will still include the daily incursions and killings by the Israelis, the almost daily clashes between the two main political Palestinian groups and the absence of financial resources for most families.

Still, from time to time one receives good news to brighten life -- very infrequent these days. For me, personally, it was the return of my husband to Gaza after many attempts and negotiations with the Israeli authorities to allow him to enter. But the Feast (Eid) is coming. It is at least a week long holiday, the borders are closed, and there is no way for the people to leave the Gaza Strip (those who can afford it) but even inside Gaza there are not many entertaining places for grownups or children and no place is secure.

I hope I didn't transfer my depression and desperation to you but I wanted to describe some scenes in Gaza over the last few weeks. We are still hoping that an improvement will come soon but it is not likely.

Maybe if a celebrity like Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise were to hear about the "Rain Man" military
operation and what it has done would get as angry as I am, perhaps this would cheer me up for a while.

Lama Hourani
Gaza City

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms Hourani;

My name is Ahmed Bassa from South Africa and it took me some time to find an address to communicate with you.I have been following the Palestinian situation most of my adult life and have been amazed as to how the world lives in this dazed denial of the crisis especially in Gaza whilst the Israelis are handled with care and soft words.The Palestinians are and will always be the conscience of humanity whether we now it or even deny it.I saw the interviwe with you on Al Jazeerah last week and was amazed at your calm resoluteness amidst the chaos and struggles of Gaza.I hope I can one day visit Gaza and be the witness to the world.

Warmest Regards
Ahmed Bassa