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19 November 2012

When Israelis escape to shelters

By: Rashid Shahin
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From personal experience when I was living in Baghdad during the war on Iraq in 2003, I can recall how dreadful the feeling of the people was when they heard the sirens, warning them of a new raid by the American war jets.

Men and women from upper apartments were coming to our apartment, which was on the first floor, looking for shelter. At the time no shelter could protect any body from the destructive missiles striking the city around the clock.

I could see the fear in the eyes of men, women and children; some of the women were not able to hide their fear, and they were crying, shivering and weeping in a way that breaks the heart of any man.

I recall how I was trying to protect my little child Omar -who was less than three years old- by putting headphones on his ears, and playing the stereo at the highest volume, so he wouldn’t hear the "roaring" of the American war jets, which struck Baghdad randomly.

It is not easy to see people, especially children, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever nationality or religion they are, running fearfully, escaping danger, to hide here or there, under a tree or behind a wall, or in a very well reinforced shelter.

Unfortunately, in the last attack by the Israeli occupation forces on the Gaza Strip, pictures were circulating in the international media mostly showing one side of the coin. Because it is well-known that Israel was banning international media journalists and reporters from entering the Strip, those who wanted to go to Gaza had to travel to Egypt. Normally, the Egyptian authorities also refused to give them access to the Strip.

Not only did the Israeli mass media- and many amongst the Western media- attempt to manipulate the facts on both sides of the conflict but Western politicians especially the British, Canadian and Americans, also played the same game and showed clear biased positions; they put responsibility on the shoulders of Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip in the last confrontation, ignoring the fact that there was a deal on the table before the Hamas leader was assassinated. See the New York Times and Business Insider


It was clear that they ignored the fact that the Strip was and still is under occupation for more than four decades, and that the Gazans are suffering a very strict siege for almost six years, during which the Israelis were counting how many calories a person should have in order not to die.

These politicians see only the few rockets- less than ten small home made rockets- falling in open areas or in the sea near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; they can’t see the very developed rockets with the huge destruction heads which are striking the most densely populated area in the world.

In the last few hours, the Israeli war jets struck two buildings in which international media outlets are based, injuring many of the journalists.

Three days before, the same jets killed an infant daughter- 11 months old- of a BBC photographer.

The Western governments and politicians seem to ignore the threats of Israeli leaders, who are threatening to bring the Strip back to the Middle Ages.

Blaming the Palestinians in the last "war" on Gaza will not change the fact that Israel is responsible for the unsettled situation in the region.

Since it was established in 1948, Israel has launched several wars against Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and attacked Iraq, Tunisia and recently Sudan.

The western politicians and media can't see the acts and deeds of Israel; they don’t dare to blame Israel for all the crimes it carried out against innocent people in many areas in the region, all they can see is a homemade rocket landed in the sea near Tel Aviv and listen to the sirens in Jerusalem, what hypocrisy!

The Israeli and Western media were using the "suffering" of the Israeli people in order to defame Palestinians, trying to focus on how Israeli civilians were rushing to escape and seek protection of what they call "the Palestinian rockets and terror".

For one reason or another, none of these mass media tried to show how the Palestinians were also trying to seek shelter from the destructive Israeli rockets.

It could be understandable if the media was – neutral- in showing both sides of the scene, but to focus on the one empty half of the bottle, that is mere unfairness.

What we have been watching in the Israeli media in the last few days was disgusting and pathetic, especially the way they use the scene of the Israelis rushing to shelters.

The question is, what about the Palestinians who were seeking shelter for more than six decades. In fact the Palestinians never have shelter to hide behind or under, they were running and escaping under an open sky, in open areas, they never have a safe place to hide behind. For more than six decades, Palestinian people have been running and still do.

The media was involved in this war as part of it, especially when none attempted to show what and how the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were suffering.

None of those in charge of the mass media was trying to seek how things are going on the other side of the warfront, all they were interested in, is how things are going in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, but what about those "creatures" living in Gaza, are they suffering or they are sleeping well, what they are doing during this time of war, how do they feel under this American machine of destruction which the State of Israel has,

how can they sleep or not, do they dare to leave their homes, do they have places to hide or what, is there any shelter like the Israeli civilians have or not.

The – involved- journalists didn't try to find answers, none of them attempted to travel to Gaza to know the truth or how life is going on in that part of the world.

For the Palestinians, this round of unjust war will end, they might lose this battle, but this will not be the end of the story nor it will be the end of the world, they are sure they have the right to defend themselves, they are sure they are defending their rights, and they believe that freedom has a price, no matter how much it will cost, and they are ready to pay the price, the question is, can the world understand this equation or not?

* Rashid Shahin is a Palestinian writer and journalist based in Ramallah. - sadapril2003@hotmail.com

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