She woke up at midnight, screaming "Mommy ... Mommy, I've lost my eyes!" It was dark, and because she could not see anything she thought she had lost her eyes. This is my little sister, Nour (meaning light in English, age 9). My mother had to light a match to prove that she could still see. Nour is an example of the thousands of Palestinian children who are living in fear in Gaza as a result of the military operation "Summer Rains," which is the largest operation after the withdrawal from Gaza in September 2005.
June 25, 2006, was a significant day for Palestinian people. Palestinian resistance groups captured an Israeli soldier (Gilaad Shaleet, age 19) from a tank while he was serving in Kairem Shalom military camp. Palestinian prisoners were delighted that an Israeli soldier was captured in the hopes that they would be released from Israeli prisons in an exchange operation. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 9,400 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons, including 330 children and 120 women.
Four days later, on June 29, the Israeli forces sent thousands of troops, backed by warplanes and tanks, into Gaza and sent fighter jets screaming over the Gaza sky. The forces entered the area of the international airport (the only airport in Gaza Strip) and destroyed the runway. Israeli F-16s fired at least nine missiles at Gaza's only power station, cutting electricity to the majority of the Gaza Strip and left Gaza in darkness. The air strike also affected water supplies to the Palestinians because water pumps in Gaza are powered by electricity.
The F-16 jets also destroyed three main bridges connecting the north and south parts of the Gaza Strip. That was the day of my best friend's wedding. When I spoke to him, he told me that he wasn't able to leave Rafah (South of Gaza Strip) to meet his bride from Gaza City (the North of Gaza Strip).
The operation this summer was focused on southern Gaza, where my family lives. I was very worried about my family because I am studying in the United States at American University and cannot do anything to help them. I had to check the news many times a day and call my family daily to make sure they were okay. I haven't even been able to stay in my room in Washington, D.C., for five minutes without air-conditioning; I could not imagine my family living without electricity and water for the whole summer. Recently, they have had power for two hours a day. When I call, the voices of my brothers and sisters are not the same. I can feel that they are tired and living under pressure as a result of the war. I did not know what to do or how to help them, in the light of the shortage of water, electricity and nutrition. I found myself very depressed and I had to go to a counselor for psychological support.
My friends from home tell me, "Never miss Gaza." They tell me not to come home. My family tells me, "We are very happy that you are not home now." This describes clearly how dirty the war is.
Mohammed Abu Asaker is a graduate student in the School of International Service.
He is a Palestinian from Rafah in the Gaza Strip in Israel.