Amira Hass: Hungry and Shell-Shocked
Amira Hass: Hungry and
Hamas is busy trying to quell false rumors that abound in the streets. One such rumor is that salaries were paid but only to those who support Hamas.
By Amira Hass
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GAZA - Where will the next blow land? That is the question. Not if it will come, but rather when, and on whom will it land, and what kind will it be?
Five-year-old L. believes the solution is to sleep every night in his parents' bed, and in that way to be protected from the shelling. But even there he is not able to fall asleep because he is so worried and afraid. In the kindergarten in the yard outside the house, the children speak all the time about the "booms" that fill their day. Booms from the sea and booms from the land. Day and night. Sometimes three per minute, sometimes three per hour. Sometimes simultaneously from the land and from the sea. The air quivers, a flock of birds takes off in fear, and for a minute the silence of terror reigns. Are there casualties? Who, where, how many? If the parents succeed in hiding from their children pictures of the other children who have been killed or wounded by the shells, the older children fill in the gory details from what they saw on TV or read in the papers. They strengthen each other's fears.
In an agricultural neighborhood near the border in the northern Gaza Strip, north of Beit Lahiyeh, the fears are made concrete by the shrapnel that has fallen countless times on the asbestos roofs. The parents have sent the children to relatives in Gaza city, so they may go to school far away from the shells. "In our neighborhood, people have not yet been killed," Z. says cynically. But the shells have taken their toll: two donkeys, a few sheep and a handful of chickens.
In the northern Gaza Strip, thousands of farming families are due to return to work their lands which were destroyed by Israeli army bulldozers over the past five years. Immediately after the Israeli army pulled out of the Gaza Strip, government and non-government bodies joined forces to rehabilitate the scorched earth. They howed and they plowed and they distributed seeds and saplings. But the farmers are afraid to go out to their lands.
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