The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
17th January 2009.
Drama and tragedy unfolded as we watched the early news yesterday. Shlomi Eldar, the Channel 10 Arab Affairs correspondent was in the middle of his section of the broadcast, giving information on the situation in Gaza when his phone began to ring on air. Under normal circumstances his phone would not be on and most certainly would not be answered. The call was from a friend in Gaza, Dr.Ezaladin El Aish, a gynaecologist who worked in fertility research in Tel Hashomer Hospital, near Tel Aviv. The doctor was hysterical but spoke in clear Hebrew and slowly Shlomi Eldar understood that his home had been hit by an Israeli tank shell and two of his eight daughters, his brother and two nieces all died and two other daughters were injured; Dr El Aish is the father of eight daughters whose wife died just a few months ago from leukemia. Shlomi Eldar spoke calmly as possible “Abu El Aish, Abu El Aish I will do my best to get help. I will call for ambulances to get you out”. Immediately Channel 10 reached the Home Guard Central Command who guaranteed that they would send ambulances immediately to bring the entire family to Israel for treatment. The incident occurred as Eldar was discussing the fact that Israel wanted to bring many Arab children from Gaza hospitals for treatment in Israel (which I reported for you two days ago).
Within minutes the correspondent on the border with Gaza reported that the ambulances were waiting and crossing the border to bring them all to safety. One daughter has already undergone surgery at Barzilay Hospital and the other, more seriously injured is in Tel Hashomer.
Prof. Ze’ev Rothstein, director-general of the Sheba Medical Center, told Ynet, “Since the operation began, Dr. Abu al-Aish returned to Gaza to be with his daughters. There are not enough words to describe the tragedy which has hit this man of all people, who does everything for the treatment of children and studied the health of children in Gaza and Israel. From what I understand, his daughters were killed by an Israeli tank shell. I wish I could wake up and realize this is a bad dream. Hamas may have taken advantage of his home. This is one of the worst tragedies of this war, which illustrates the absurd in the use made of the population exposed to the fire. All of Sheba’s staff bow their head in the face of this loss.”
Later as I sat at my computer I commented on the incident to one of my correspondents, Mona Abramson in Boston, when she told me that she knows Dr El Aish, had worked with him and had already spoken to him as he was on his way to the hospital.
Arab Members of the Knesset led a demonstration saying that the massacre in Gaza is worse than Sabra and Shattila – clearly they have not seen the movie “Waltz with Bashir” or read a history book or they would know that the Sabra and Shatilla massacre was not Israel – it was the Christian Phalangists who were devastated by the fact that the Palestinians took and destroyed the Christian country of Lebanon and turned the “Pearl of the Middle East” into a slum land of abject poverty and strife; and as revenge for the sacking and massacre of Damour. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damour_massacre where the Palestinians, led by Arafat not only killed, but exhumed the dead and robbed their graves. Strange that one never hears of Arab or Palestinian human rights violations.
A Memorandum of Agreement has been signed between Israel and the United States, now all that remains is for Egypt to sign a similar document with the USA too.
Egypt is the enigma in the long-running saga of Arab antagonism toward Israel. We know what Hamas wants; they want what Iran tells them they want – absolute tyrannical control over Gaza and Israel wiped off the map. Egypt insists that it wants to be part of the Peace Process and is happy to be the go-between yet, we are all painfully aware that if Egypt would police the Philadelphia Route then Hamas would find it nigh impossible to import arms! If Egypt would allow the Rafiach crossing to be used for the passage of aid to Gaza then Israel would not be involved.
If you ever have doubts that the current war is disproportionate, inequality of response, unbalanced warfare or in any way unwise – just check out this map and see what awful land-grabbing settlers we really are!
Finally and rather sadly, the very doctor I wrote about at the beginning of this article sat in Sheba Hospital and gave press conference after press conference. While Judaism says that one should never criticize a man in his moment of sorrow, his behaviour was difficult for one mother who has three boys serving in Gaza. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3657587,00.html
And so we start another week……………………
Dear friends, I so want this war to end, our boys to come home safely and the world to turn its face to a different cause – even though we all know they won’t. If we allow the opinions of those who do not understand to rule our self-defence then we are lost. I would love to be on friendly terms with the people of Gaza, but I am not prepared to lose my homeland in return. Israel owes its continued existence to those who emanated from this soil, those whose Bible reflects the very stones we walk on. We have to defend what is ours becase as you just saw in the map that Dassi sent me – what we have is very small but the centre of our world.