Edna Yaghi’s Column
My name is Huda. I am 8 years old. I am sitting near the rubble of my family’s house after it was demolished by an Israeli bulldozer in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza.
My once upon a time home overlooks the illegal Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom on confiscated land that belonged to my forefathers for more than 2000 years.
I woke at 2 am to the sight of machine guns pointing in my face and the faces of my family. Israeli soldiers barked orders at us in Arabic to get out of our house immediately. We were pushed outside at gunpoint, unable to retrieve anything at all before our only home was ripped apart right before our eyes.
I stood shuddering from the cold and fear next to my 11 year old sister Bader. The lights of the bulldozers and army tanks come to protect them in their destruction of our lives, cast an eerie glow through the chunks of building torn out from the heart of our home. I felt as if my own heart were being wrenched out of me. I looked up at my sister. Her tears rolled down her face as she stood motionless. Her face was white with fear. The salt of my own tears stung my cheeks in the freezing night air and I could not stop shaking. Israeli soldiers kept their machine guns aimed at us in case we made any attempt to try to stop their desecration of our lives.
As dawn broke, my family and I stood on the remains of our home that my grandfather built with his own hands to shelter us from evil and the forces of nature. I picked up a piece of the blue marble tile that only yesterday had carpeted our kitchen floor.
My grandfather, Sulaiman, 64, slumped down next to the twisted iron rods that had reinforced the beams that supported our home. I looked over to where olive and fruit trees had once provided us with fruit and shade from the summer sun. Only ugly stumps or uprooted tree trunks remained.
My grandfather tried to choke back his tears. He cried out to photographers come to tape the smoking remains of our home, “I want Mr. Bush to come and see who the real terrorists are.”
But I felt certain that Mr. Bush cares little for the fate of people like us, thrown out in the middle of winter to watch our home pulled apart. I think Mr. Bush is too busy killing Afghanis and wondering which Arab/Muslim country he can next destroy.
Only a few days ago, five Palestinian children from the same family were blown to pieces when they stepped on a mine planted near the school they attended. The mine was planted there by our oppressors and the people who occupy our land and country. I am now wondering if death is not better after all than such an existence that we are forced to live.
Yesterday, a 13-year-old boy, Kefah Obeid, was shot in the chest and killed by Israeli snipers because he threw stones at Israeli soldiers in protest of the murder of the 5 children the day before. Every day Palestinian children are wounded or killed simply because they are Palestinian and live on the land that the Israelis want to take from them and their people.
My parents and grandmother are now sifting through the buried parts of our home in search of blankets and other basic essentials. My sister Bader stopped looking for her schoolbooks and announced that she would not go to school today because her clothes and schoolbooks are buried inside chunks of our house.
I shall not attend school either. But I am even more concerned about where my family and I will spend this next night and if my grandfather will be able to survive the loss of everything he worked all his life to build.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claims he wants peace. But he says that in order for negotiations to take place, Palestinians must first stop the violence. I cannot understand how my people are attacked with Israeli shells, machine guns, tanks, helicopters, bulldozers and armored vehicles and yet we are asked to stop the violence when we are not even able to defend ourselves.
The real terror is being waged against us every day of our lives by our Israeli occupiers. We are left without shelter, a means of existence, and any hope for tomorrow. What have we done to deserve such treatment?