From Gaza, with Love

Monday, July 17, 2006

my article in Boston Globe Monday 10th of july

By Mona El-Farra

Since the capture of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to a large scale military operation, what Israel calls Summer Rain. Because Israel bombed our power plant, and we need electricity to pump water, most of Gaza now has no access to drinking water. In the heat of our summer, rain would be a blessing.

To the outside world it might seem like an easy decision for Palestinians: let the soldier go and the siege will end. Yet for us Gazans, even in the face of this extreme violence, another decision comes, not with ease, but with resolve. Shalit is one solider who was captured in a military operation. Today, 122 Palestinian women and 400 children under 16, are inside Israeli prisons. They deserve their freedom no less than Shalit. Their families mourn their absence no less than his family. So while we suffer Israel's Summer Rain, most Gazans, want the soldier held - not harmed, only held -- until our women and children are released.

We will pay a high price, long after the bombing has stopped. I am already starting to lose track of days and nights, of how many bombs have dropped. Since the main power plant was destroyed, we have had to live with no electricity. What we get is patchy, an hour or two at most, just enough to recharge our laptops and mobile phones so that we do not lost all touch with each other and with the outside world.

As a physician, I fear for the hospitals, for our patients. Twenty-two hospitals have no electricity at all. They have to rely on generators. But the generators need fuel to run and our fuel supplies are running dangerously low. We have enough for a few days at most. But our borders are completely sealed so no fuel can get in. Hundreds of operations have been postponed. The lives of patients on life support machines, children in intensive care, renal dialysis patients and others are threatened because there is no power. Our pharmacies were already nearly empty because of the closed borders and economic sanctions inflicted on us. What little supplies were left have gone bad because they needed to be refrigerated.

More than 30,000 children suffer from malnutrition today, and this number will increase as diarrhea spreads because of the limited supply of good clean water and high rates of food contamination.

As a mother, I fear for our children. I can see the effects of the continuous sonic booming and artillery shelling on my daughter. She is 13 years old and she is restless, panicked. She is afraid to go out, yet frustrated because she can't see her friends. When the Israeli planes break the sound barrier, which they do at all times of the day and night, the sound is terrifying. My bed shakes tremendously. My daughter usually jumps into bed with me, shivering with fear. Then both of us end up crouching on the floor. My heart races, yet I need to pacify my daughter, to make her feel safe. Now she knows that we need to pacify each other. She feels my fear. When the bombs sound, I flinch and scream. I can't help myself. I am a doctor, a mature, middle-aged woman. But with the sonic booming, I become hysterical. I am only human after all, and we all have our threshold for fear and pain.

This aggression will leave scars on the psychology of our children for years to come. Instilling feelings of fear, anger and loss in our children will not bring peace and security to Israelis.

Many of us in Gaza believe that Israel's Summer Rain was pre-planned, that Shalit's capture is being used as a pretense. Israel attacked Gaza within hours of a national consensus accord signed by Fatah and Hamas, an accord that could have led to negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Yet Israel knows that for negotiations to succeed it would have to give up its desire to maintain control of Palestinian land and resources. We in Gaza believe that the goal of Israel's military campaign against us is not Shalit's release. The goal is to bring down our elected government and to destroy our infrastructure, and with it our will to secure our national rights, even on the small pieces of land that remain to us. Though we do not now live with ease, we live with resolve. Until the world pressures Israel to recognize our rights in our land, and to pursue a peace that gives freedom and security to both peoples, we both will continue to pay the price.


  • Dear Dr. El-Farra,

    I discovered your blog through that of your niece. I'm an American mother of a little boy very close to Yousuf's age, and so Laila El-Haddad's writing has had a strong impact on me and on my thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I've been appalled at Israel's disproportionate and inhumane actions over the past days, and deeply troubled at the careless response of the American administration. I want you to know that -- despite what our sitting president may say or do -- there are many, many people in this country, like me, whose thoughts turn to you today. Thank you for your dispatches from Gaza, and may you and your family stay safe, always.

    Best regards,

    By Blogger Bethany, at 7/17/2006 6:24 PM  

  • Mona - I am very happy to hear from you again ... I was REALLY worried already!!
    I do 100% agree to your analysis ... this "summer rain" was premeditated as this was just what they mentioned OFTEN before already - that they do want to take any basis away from the new government to be able to govern!
    I do feel so terrible ... it is a nightmare in Gaza ... and now another nightmare in Lebanon - not to even mention the nightmare in Iraq - I wonder in what world we live!!
    Is there no way to get medications from, say, Egypt? I mean ... you're not asking for weapon but MEDICINE ... what about Physicians for Human Rights? Physicians without Boarders? Can't they do ANYTHING to help?

    Mona - the way you react when these terrible sonic booms occur is just the way ALL of us would ... it is MORE than natural and normal! Rest perfectly assured, I am with you, backing and supporting you ALL THE WAY! I share your philosophy and agree to each point you stress!
    I'm sending you a HUGE portion of strength and love ... and many BIG HUGS for you and Sondos!!

    By Blogger Karin, at 7/17/2006 7:23 PM  

  • Powerful. You're in my du'a. //Imaan

    By Blogger Imaan On Ice, at 7/17/2006 7:24 PM  

  • Thank god we can hear your voice. please keep telling us what is happening.

    By Blogger Intrepidflame, at 7/17/2006 8:55 PM  

  • those who live by the sword should not complain so much when the sword cuts them. there are children and victims on both sides of the war, i & hugs are nice but when palestine can live side by side with the jews of israel, when we all can live and let live, then there will be peace. until then, the garbage you talk about it is not only in your streets...

    By Blogger Rocker 419, at 7/17/2006 10:52 PM  

  • Hi Rocker419,

    'those who live by the sword should not complain so much when the sword cuts them.'

    Are you talking about Americans killed in 9/11?

    Regs, Shaggy

    By Blogger Shaggydabbydo, at 7/18/2006 11:00 PM  

  • Ironic that a Palestinian sounds concerned over the welfare of their children when they are so popular for straping bombs to the tykes and sending them to their deaths. Is the problem that no Jews died with them that bothers you so?

    By Blogger WmGH, at 7/20/2006 4:10 AM  

  • There are many of us in Canada, including Jews, who support you. Our Prime Minister and his shockingly cold comments do not represent many Canadians, and Israel and the major Jewish organizations do now speak for many Jews.

    Israel's extreme tactics, transparently premeditated on the model of the US attack on Iraq, are just setting Jews up for an upsurge in disgust and condemnation. It is therefore antisemitic NOT to criticize Israel's actions.

    We think of you and your people every day.

    By Blogger psychoanalystforpeace, at 7/20/2006 7:46 AM  

  • Why are Jewish racists always anonymous?

    By Blogger Glenn Condell, at 7/22/2006 5:38 AM  

  • If Palestinians had not been attacking Israel there would be no Palestinians in Israeli jails, there would be no fence, there would be no occupation. If Arafat had made peace with Barak the Palestinians would have a state with a capitol area in Jerusalem. If Palestinians had not kidnapped the soldier there would be no Israelis in Gaza. Here's a new plan: How about the Palestinians letting Israel live in peace, so that Israel can let the Palestinians live in peace?

    By Blogger Stephen, at 7/22/2006 7:44 AM  

  • Stephen...I think it is always difficult to actually see who started and who has reacted. However, The situation is simply like this: There was a land that was taken from its people; the people were Jews, Muslims and christians. From all three religons some can still give you evidence that things were Ok. The ISraeli project came in 48 to attack these populated areas of Palestine especcially the ones richer with resources and also the ones that have spiritual importance to Jews. Israel was not based on the Jews who were there, but on the Jews who were suffering in Europe. That creation that was a result of Terrorist attacks on civilians caused he tension and created wars with the neighbors here and there. This part shouldnt be forgotton. if you dont want to start from then. You can also follow the pattern of Israeli oppression to Palestinians and also discrimination of Arab-Israelis in very recent history..but the difference is that ISrael is recongnized and its army is legitemate..but all other groups that are resisting these actions are the terrorists.

    By Blogger Naj, at 7/23/2006 10:20 PM  

  • Salam and hello,

    I came across your blog by accident, while bloghopping, and I am very glad I did happen upon it.

    It was distressing to read about the terrifying sonic booms you and your family have to suffer on a regular basis as well as all the other things the Israelis unleash upon the people of Gaza.

    Whilst it was troubling to read of your difficulties, I would like to thank you for sharing your experiences, since real reporting
    from people who actually live in Gaza is very important. So that people in the outside world can understand a little better.

    Thank you.

    May God watch over you and your family.

    By Blogger Jamroll, at 7/24/2006 2:27 AM  

  • Dear Mona,

    most of all I wish for you, your children, and everyone around you to be safe. All of this has been going for way too long! There should be an abrupt stop put to all this... it's a disgrace for all humanity that something like this has been allowed to go on for decades and decades...

    In this specific time, Israel has been acting like a spoiled child throwing tantrums, I don't think these are actions of a responsible and 'democratic' nation. It can't be. You can't gun down a stone-thrower! Where's proportion? Where's civilized problem solving?

    My heart's with you.


    By Blogger mischka, at 7/28/2006 8:15 AM  

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