Al-Jazeerah, July 25, 2006
I can hear the bombs as I write this: today, the 20th of July, is Day 8 of the Israeli war on Lebanon.
The bombing continues today especially in all the south and east of Lebanon. Today more massacres were conducted and more civilians were killed. Tomorrow we will count our lost ones from today and we will see more photos of murdered children and families. Today we counted our lost ones from yesterday. We collected photos of the remains of families, of women and children who were killed. Yesterday was the worst, 70 civilians were killed - most of them are still under the ruins of their houses destroyed in the south and the Beqa'a regions.
On the television and radio people from the south and east Lebanon who are beseiged in their villages are asking for medicine, food, water, and are asking for mercy. They say there are still people buried under their houses that Israel bombed yesterday. They say there are still fires they cannot put off as Israel is using phosphorus bombs that burns everything. They say please give us one hour to allow us to have medicine and food at least for the children and to bury those who were killed.
They say there is a strong smell of death in their villages because there are bodies of killed people under the ruins of shelters and houses.
Reporters say they were able to hear voices screaming for help, moaning from pain, dying under the ruins, and no one was able to help because Israel is bombing any vehicle that moves and the people are not able to move the ruins of the houses to save the people who are buried underneath.
Today doctors from the hospitals in the south are screaming saying many of the dead bodies they received were not even injured and didn't bleed, but they were burnt while the hair is not burnt and a strange strong smell comes from the bodies. These are evidence that Israel is using chemical weapons.
Yesterday the speaker of the human rights committee in United Nations, said that there is a "strong possibility that Israel is conducting war crimes". Of course Israel is conducting war crimes. This is a genocide. Would the UN and the international comunity act now before it is too late to force Israel to stop?
It is already one week of this and the UN gave Israel one more week to finish its dirty work in Lebanon. One week of this genocide and the result is more than half million displaced Lebanese and 325 killed civilians and 1000 injured civilians. Most of them are children.
The war is generating damages of one and a half billion dollars every day so far. It would take 15 years to rebuild what Israel destroyed in 7 days. But those who got killed cannot be brought back to life.
Yesterday Israel conducted several massacres, one of them in the village of Sreifah in the south by blowing up 10 houses with the people inside, killing 27; all were members of 3 families.
Israel orders the people in the south to evacuate their villages: when the people try to leave their villages Israel targets them with Apache helicopters and kills them. Israel did it again yesterday targeting 3 cars full of peole and children who were trying to leave the village Aitaroun killing 4 and injuring 7.
There will be no schools this 2006/07 schoolyear, as there are tens of villages and towns that were completely destroyed including schools, medical centers, shops, factories and houses of its citizens. Tens of thousands from among the half a million displaced people would have to stay in the public schools and gardens for 6 more months this is if the war were to stop today. Winter is coming, I wonder how the displaced Lebanese would survive in the public schools and gardens?
On Day 1 of the war the Israeli government said they would turn Lebanon back in time by 20 years. And they did it. But now they are murdering all of us. Lebanon is completely destroyed, no more bridges, roads, factories, stations, water, electricity, airports, seaports, they bombed medical centers and schools and internet stations, they even bombed the historical ruins of Bealbeck.
Today I had to go like hundreds of people to bring drinkable water from the fountain which is something my grand grand grandmother used to do in the 17th century. Then I went to buy milk and cigarettes: the shelves in the 7 shops I visited were almost empty.
The roads are cut and there is no way to provide goods from one region to the other. I didn't complain, I thought about the others who are trapped in their villages under attack with nothing at all for 8 days now.
I tried to call friends, Wafa and Fadi in Sida, Raed in Beirut, Sameera in Bealbeck, Sahban in Tyre and others, but while standing in front of the public phone in the street waiting for my turn, watching the tens of young women and children waiting to use the phone, listening to the conversations, the fear, the worries etc, I felt I couldn't wait, I couldn't make the phone calls, I was so scared that no one will answer at the other side of the phone, this other side that is only an hour or an hour and a half away now seems very distant, as if on another planet.
I went home feeling sad and helpless. Decided to occupy myself with reorganizing the old newspapers I keep in my room: I carry the first one and open it to find it is "Al Safeer" newspaper from 1996 and on the first page pictures of killed infants and children - it was the Israeli massacre of Qana. This massacre happened when people from the southern villages took refuge at a UN center in the village of Qana and were murdered as Israel bombed the UN center. Pain sweeps me and I crack down with the tears I tried very bravely and hardly to stop for seven days.
The whole picture is so shockingly clear to me: we will never live in peace and will never have a future as long as Israel is protected, tolerated and allowed to kill children and destroy houses and hospitals in Lebanon and Palestine.
It is a genocide. Nothing less. Nothing else.
Today on the television they showed Israeli children in north Israel writing messages on Israeli bomb missiles that will be fired - or have been already fired - at the Lebanese villages. Those messages say: "from the children of Israel to the children of Lebanon". Can any one explaine this... What is this madness? Can someone at least tell the world and Israel that those messages found their way to the flesh and blood of the Lebanese children? We got the message.
More survivors and displaced families are coming to the mountains today and they have even reached the northern mountain. Now people are hosting those displaced families in their own houses as all the public schools and universities are full. Cars with megaphones are driving in the roads asking people to donate matresses as there is a need for 11,000 matresses, in the mountain alone, and it is an immediate need.
When I think about the displaced people I imagine that I have to sleep wearing the same outfit I was wearing for a week, in the same underwear, I imagine how it would feel to be in a minivan on the road with tens of other people squeezed running away to what might be a safer zone, fearing that the Israeli missiles would hunt us at any second and that we would make the news like the family whose photos I sent you who were targeted after trying to escape with their truck on the road. And like many others. I try to imagine if I can stay with no shower for a week, with no medicine for a week, with no food, no bathrooms, no water to drink, no contact with other members of my family.
I stay at my room looking at each corner and think about those who lost their houses, their belongings, those who lost everything.
What does Israel want? - a land with no people in Palestine and Lebanon? What does USA want? A Middle East empty but for oil? Are they just displaying their weapons for buying and selling in the market, is it an exhibition of madness? Condy says "we won't ask Israel to stop firing because stopping it won't solve the problem". Yes Condy, it won't solve the problem. Dead Lebanese and dead Palestinians would solve the problem, no? A genocide. And Blair also share this position with Condy. Don't they know that ending the occupation is what would solve the problem?
What future are Israel, USA, UK and Iran planning for the region? More wars more killing more violence and hate. In this, superpowers fight over domination; we the ordinary people are the ones stuck in the middle, we are ones being used in their wars and conflicts, we are the ones who pay the price. In Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, we deserve to live in peace.
All the violence is caused by the occupation.
Yesterday Israel bombed Borj El Brajneh district in the southern suburbs of Beirut with more than 23 tons of bombs!!! yes, 23 tons of bombs, even the global media confirmed it. The target was a mosque. They bombed it with the pretext that there are tunnels under this mosque and Nasrallah is hiding there!!!.
Till now 3 churches and 5 mosques were destroyed. I was thinking about Wafa'a and her husband Ali, both Palestinian refugees living in Borj El Brajneh camp. I just went to their wedding party one week before this war started, visited them at their new appartment in the refugee camp three days before this war started. I am dead worried about them. After Israel bombed the mobile/cellphone station it is almost impossible to make a phone call.
Dear friends, Lebanon that some of you you have visited once does not exist any more. Tell the world, keep carrying out what you do, all you can do, make this genocide stop, there is nothing left for Israel to destroy unless they want to kill us in our homes, house after house, family after family ... just like what is happening in Gaza, just like what happened in Sabra & Shatila massacre in 1982.
Yesterday the 19th July, we were no longer able to recognize day from night; our days are just like our nights all full of bombing, black smoke of fires (because Israel is bombing gas stations and gas tanks). There's destruction of milk and cheese factories, burning tissue, wood, and carton factories, destruction of health care centers, destruction of schools and shops, photos of burnt children, news about families being targeted and killed in their shelters and relief centers...
I fear this might lead to a bigger war or conflict. I feel like every one lost their minds, even those who do know and do understand.
I have friends in all parts of Lebanon and I am dead worried about them. I am worried about my friends in north Israel, too, in Haifa, Nazareth and Safad.
I write to Salman and his wife Nada, they live in Karmel mountain above Haifa, they tell me they are fine, yet their daughter left to Italy to stay with her brother. They ask me to be fine and not to crack down. Salman, who toured Italy last year talking about the verbal history of the Palestinians that he has collected for over 30 years, tells me that a storm is in his heart and mind.
Aida, my friend in Haifa, a brave activist and a mother of 2 children whom I met in Cyprus at a conference and became best friends since then writes to me saying she wishes to sacrifice herself for me and all the Lebanese. She told me that when people call her to see if she and her daughters are fine after the Hezbollah Catyoshia rockets hit Haifa, her daughters answer saying we are fine but what about the children of Lebanon?
What an ironic world. What good would come from Hezbollah bombing Haifa, Acker, and Safad in north Israel? And what good would come from the Israeli systematic destruction of Lebanon and Gaza and West Bank and killing of civilians in Lebanon and in Gaza? Nothing but more violence and madness.
Every day more civilians are being killed, more massacres. Every day more children within few seconds are turned from beautiful and innocent creatures full of life and laughter into pieces of burnt flesh and meat.
We see their images on our televisions and newspapers, and I wonder what future the surviving children can have with such memories, why should children in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq have to endure such brutality.
Make Israel pay for the crimes it is conducting.
Make it stop its crimes, or else Israel will continue this. I read today that the Zionist religious men in Israel said it is allowed for Israel to kill inoccent women and children who are not Jewish - what difference is there between this and what Bin Laden and Zarqawi and all those criminals are saying and doing in Iraq. killing innocent Shi'ites and Christians, Iraqis and foreigners?
The photos here are of two massacres Israel conducted yeterday and the day before. One in Nabishiet village near Bealbeck city in east Lebanon killing 7 members from one family (4 of them are children) by bombing their four-floor house and injuring 3. The other one occured in the south when Israel again targeted a car that was trying to escape to a safer place killing the family that was in it.
Also, there is a photo of the US embassador in Beirut turning his back to the photos of destruction and the murders which were displayed at a Government conference room where they invited ambassadors to ask them to pressure Israel to stop this war.
Thank you again for caring while the world is turning its back and closing its eyes. Yours Raida
Raida Hatoum was a founding member of the Lebanon IndyMedia organization in Beirut; is a volunteer active with the Palestinian Solidarity networks working at the Shatila refugee camp and with the Najdeh Association; member of the group which published the Lebanese paper Al-Yasari (the Leftist); and a committed Socialist.
This article was first published by Cyprus IndyMedia, July 21, 2006.