Sunday, May 31, 2009

Trying to make sense out of the senseless

Yesterday we toured areas damaged by the Israeli attacks. We saw many of the isolated homes and the mosques that were destroyed. We ended at an area east of Belt Lahia which is considered the most heaving damaged residential zone. It was targeted during the last four days of the war. Imad Ukal, the Area Operations Officer, explained that by that point in the attacks there wasn’t any resistance or militants left. Many of those homes have been completely destroyed. One family is still living underneath the collapsed home shown in the photos below.

We wandered perimeter of the collapsed concrete frame of the American International School. Israel says it was a legitimate terrorist because it was being used as a rocket-launching site and munitions storage dump. The school’s principal vehemently denies those claims. It appears that very little if anything at all has been removed, so hopefully Richard Goldstone’s UN Investigation team can draw some clear conclusions. Israel isn’t cooperating with the investigation though, so regardless of what the findings are it seems they will never change their position. The US shouldn't be allowing Israel a free pass during this investigation, but that just confirms our government is either complicit in the attacks and not interested in the truth.

There isn’t any rebuilding going on anywhere. Everything destroyed remains as it was four months ago, which was one of the points that John Ging emphasized a few days ago. The only reason is the blockade.

It’s impossible to make sense of anything I saw, except the people. In between the damaged sites we visited several facilities where people are valiantly working on healing from the trauma from the attacks. Like the night we arrived, everyone we met was in remarkably high spirits considering all they have gone through the present difficulties created by the blockade. Children for the most part seem to be responding to the arts as a means for regaining some sense of enjoyment in life, which must also be uplifting for the adults.

One sort of revelation I experienced in a few of these areas was the way children flocked to greet us. I had the feel of being a soldier in a war flick, walking through a town the US army had just liberated. Not to put down soldiers who genuinely deserved such attention in wars of the past, but maybe it’s not directed to their role as soldiers nearly as much as it just being a strangers passing by in a time of safety following the horror of war. Most aren’t asking for anything more than attention.

And why shouldn’t it be that way for the children. It’s the type of excitement we saw when we arrived on Saturday. People want to be recognized. Some want to tell their story, and not only those about their suffering. They want to share what makes them happy.

Not everyone is a leader, but those who are seem to be dedicating their energy to recovering from the attack. They want to be recognized for their successes, which would be that much more impressive if the blockade would end.

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by Rich in Juneau