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Palestine: “I do not want my kids to see me torn into pieces”

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Israel, Palestine, Disaster, Humanitarian Response, International Relations, Refugees, War & Conflict

How does it feel to be unable to protect your children? In this roundup of blogs from Gaza we hear from a mother who is wracked with guilt at seeing her children's terror: “Was I mistaken to have kids in the first place? Do I not have the right to be a mother?”

Palestinian photojournalist Sameh Habeeb blogs at Gaza Strip, The Untold Story [1]:

Most of the Gaza Strip plunges into deep darkness since the start of this war. I find several hardships to send out this report due to power problem. Today, a rocket targeted my uncle's house. My house got several splinters and rocket shrapnel. Thanks to God, we all safe but I don't know what will happen next. I live east of Gaza, Toffah area, were artillery shells rained down every single moment.

Natalie Abou Shakra, a Lebanese activist, writes at the group blog Moments of Gaza. In her post she translates two leaflets dropped by the Israeli military asking the citizens of Gaza to provide information on the whereabouts of Hamas fighters. Natalie comments [2]:

What really shocked me is the username they chose for their email. “Helpgaza2008″ ?!

I think this e-mail of theirs deserves to be bombed with the right kind of messages!

Nirmeen Kharma Elsarraj writes at the group blog Lamentations-Gaza [3]:

There are things that are not well reported in the news, feelings!! I have three children, a daughter Nour who is 14, a son Adam who is 9 and another son Ali who is 3. We live in an area in Gaza city that used to be described ‘safe’. Nowhere is safe anymore. My children cannot sleep and I cannot help them. The feelings of helplessness and guilt (which always accompanies your inability to protect or at least comfort your children) are stronger than those of fear and horror. My daughter was telling a journalist on the phone yesterday that she had never got the real support she sought from me whenever there was a shelling. I was shocked!! I felt so guilty because my daughter felt my fears. But is it not normal to be scared after all?! Adam is asthmatic and he uses a ventilator. Due to the stress and the pollution resulting from rubbles, he is getting more frequent asthma attacks and there is no electricity for his ventilator. Each time he has an attack, we have to put the generator on for him and then put it off. There is no enough fuel to keep the generator on and we have no idea till when this is going to continue. Ali has no idea what this is all about. All what he does is scream in fear whenever there is a bombing and when it is over, he uses his imagination to tell stories about ‘qasef – bombing’. The kids do not sleep. We spend our days and nights in one single room with my sister in law and her daughter. You feel the stress and fear. You can see it on everyone's face.
Last night I was thinking about all this. I do not want anyone of my family to get hurt and I thought if anything should happen, I pray it happens to me and not my kids. Then I thought I do not want my kids to see me torn into pieces. The scenes on tv of people killed are so terrifying and I know what it means for children to see such thing. What I really want is for all this to end and for me and my kids to live just like anyone else in the world. I want to get rid of the feeling of guilt towards my kids. Was I mistaken to have kids in the first place? Do I not have the right to be a mother? But am I really doing a good mother's ‘job’ in being the source of comfort for my kids. I know it is not my fault but I knew also that I live in Gaza and Gaza has never been a healthy environment to raise children. Was I that selfish to think about my own feeling to want to be a mother and ignoring my expected failure to protect my kids?

Australian activist Sharyn Lock writes at Tales to Tell [4]:

So, Thursday: the Red Cross co-ordinated evacuation into Zaytoun. Doctor Said would look good on a Red Cross poster – black sweater, shaved head, muscles enough to keep that Red Cross flag held above his head for the two hours we were behind army lines. You’d definitely invite him in for coffee to ask for his opinion on the state of the world. His colleague has more of an accountant look about him, but his job is to keep us alive – he is armed with a walkie-talkie and is negotiating our path constantly with the army as we move. With May, a small, quick woman who is the Engineer for the Red Crescent, supervising all the vehicles etc, I carry a stretcher and water. About 8 intrepid Red Crescent paramedics join us, wearing weighty bullet proof vests or not dependent on their preference for possible death or certain backache.
When I was a kid, I was very aware of war zones, but I always understood they happened in places different from my home. I would like to tell you about what I am seeing right now as I walk. I am seeing flowering vines. Bright curtains in windows. Chickens running about. This is your home, you know. This is the garden where your children play. This is your house with obscene holes blown in it, with Israeli snipers lurking in the shadows of its roof, with a dead resistance fighter sitting with his back to your wall.

Across the Arab world bloggers have been posting a song called We will not go down (Song for Gaza) [5] by Michael Heart [6]. Adham Khalil from Jabaliya Camp, who blogs at Free Free Palestine, is one of them [7]: