The War on terror has never terrorized so many of us as currently in the Holy Land. There is nothing more terrifying than hearing the Israeli fighter jets above your head and you just don’t know exactly where they will drop the bomb.
The War on terror has never terrorized so many of us as currently in the Holy Land. There is nothing more terrifying than hearing the Israeli fighter jets above your head and you just don’t know exactly where they will drop the bomb. It seems like it will drop right now above your head and as the sound whooshes away there is a great sign of relief some other place will be bombed instead. This week it was mostly Ramallah, the city I spend three hours trying to get out of last Thursday. It’s difficult to even find the right words to describe the panic, the fear, and the anxiety in the streets among the people. There is nothing like thousands of people looking for taxis at the same time to get home as soon as possible because the Israeli Army is about to totally reoccupy the city. This means military tanks and armored jeeps on almost every street, house invasions and thousands of men between 16-45 years of age collected and detained. There are a few exceptions, however, some are just shot dead in cold blood, and maybe they are on Israel’s most wanted list. I am sure there is some good reason for the democracy of Israel to execute these people right on the spot.
Each time the Israelis assassinate people, like the five generals, all in their 50’s, in Arafat’s compound all shot in the head in close range and found without weapons, these men are someone’s father. They are someone’s brother. They are someone’s husband. Hate and revenge continue. Thus, a brand new generation of “terrorists” will be born in Ramallah following these brutal killings which also included four young men shot to death at the Islamic youth club. I am loosing my English on this side of the world because I used to think these things were massacres and war crimes. But I try to keep in mind what the Israeli government says, these Palestinians were terrorists so of course Israel has a right to defend itself. In three days alone, twenty-five bodies lie dead in the Ramallah hospital because no one can even bury the dead since Ramallah has been closed off as a military zone and everyone is under virtual house arrest.
Please pray for Ramallah because actually the people can not even go to church and pray on Sunday. Fr. Ibrahim Hijazin prayed alone with the sisters at the Latin Church because not a single soul was willing to risk walking the streets of Ramallah with snipers on most buildings ready to shoot anyone in site. My cousin, Fr. Iacoub Khoury conducted the liturgy just with Fr. Meletios at the Greek Orthodox Church. For many years I used to think it is terrible that people are not allowed to enter Jerusalem and pray at the Holy Sepulchre, but now people can’t even get out of their house and attend their local church. Most of the neighborhoods in Ramallah have been without electricity and without water for the last four days. Some neighborhoods have the electricity turned on for a few hours in the afternoon.
The building that has the office for the Greek Cultural Center in the middle of Ramallah received ten rockets and went on fire. No one can actually go and access the damage because we can’t move from our present locations. Many buildings were bombed and destroyed but the only thing that personally bothers me about this particular destruction is that ten out of the twelve illustrations that a Greek artist Fotini had completed for me where at the cultural center. Beautiful illustrations for a new children’s book I was working on called “My Favorite Saints” for elementary ages featuring one saint for each month. I suppose this building had some terrorists in it also.
But the horrid conditions the Israeli army creates for us breads terrorism. The total humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian people is worse than the Nazi’s did to the Jews in concentration camps. How can these people that have suffered so much in history turn around and conduct worse atrocities towards another group of people. And how can the United States continue to blindly support Israel with billions of dollars each year. We have lived for the last 18 months with terror. For us terror means apache helicopters dropping bombs in our neighborhoods, F-16 jets dropping bombs and assassinating Palestinian leaders, Israeli soldiers invading homes and destroying everything in their site while looting, tanks firing rockets into schools, Israeli soldiers with machine guns preventing people from going to work and school, checkpoints in all the Palestinian cities and villages that cut them off from each other. Terror is when the ambulances can not get to injured people and take them to the hospital. Terror is when the Israeli army continues to demolish Palestinian homes leaving thousands of people homeless. For us living in the Holy Land, terror means the occupation that we feel and experience daily not having independence or any basic human rights. Terror to me means when the world is silent and allows Israel to be above all international laws and United Nation Resolutions. What does terror mean to you?