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A letter from Gaza by Khalil Abu Shammala

July 7, 2006 2:34 P.M. (Updated: July 7, 2006 2:34 P.M.)
By Khalil Abu Shammala

Director of Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, Gaza

Nesma, my three-year-old daughter, feels a lot of fear when she hears planes flying in the skies of Gaza. Whenever she hears the sound of the planes, her body shakes and she starts crying because she has become used to hearing a sonic bomb after the noise of the planes. Nowadays, the Gaza Strip is facing a real act of war, where the Israeli forces are using physiological torture against the Palestinian civilians by using sonic bombs.

We, the old people, are suffering psychologically as we are not afraid for ourselves but we don't know how to calm down our children, or how to explain these sonic bombs to them. "Are they fire works or a balloon blast?" they ask.

We can no longer hide the truth from them because they figured it out themselves when the four-month-old baby Iman Hijo was killed, when the Ghalia family was killed on the beach of Beit Lahiya and when six-year-old Muhammed Jamal Rouqah was killed by an Israeli strike while he was going to tell his friends that his father came back from Dubai and bought him toys and gifts.

Nesma, my three-year-old child, spoke some words I didn't want to hear as a father, never wanting my children to face such a situation. She now speaks of "shelling, airplane, tank, missile, firing, resistance and occupation".

I would have liked for Nesma, her brother Muhammed and her sister Nour to live a quiet life, enjoying their time like all other children around the world and to live all their life stages sure of a better, wonderful, active future. I would have liked them to achieve all their dreams without any fear of a glimpse that could steal the life of any one of them while they are on the street, or riding in a car, or even while walking on the beach.

All the children of Gaza live in fear during the day. Even in this very hot summer the children of Gaza cannot go to summer camps to spend their summer days because the parents are afraid for their children due to the shelling.

Gaza children are enquiring, "What self-defense is Israel speaking about while they are using this massive military machinery against them? What self-defense causes the destruction of important vital structures that then prevents the patients from having their right to proper medical care with no obstructions and cuts the electricity power from a population of 750,000 citizens in the Gaza Strip?"

The children are enquiring about the position of the international community that doesn't raise any voice to protect them. They are astonished by this silence that gives Israel the green light to commit more crimes.

The children of Gaza are not sure now that international law and international conventions are capable of protecting them.

Will Nesma, the three-year-old child, suffer? Who will guarantee her to live without suffering psychologically through her lifetime? What will the Israelis say to Nesma? What will the international community say to Nesma while she is living in nervous shock for the rest of her life?

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