“Summer rains are a good blessing” — this is the title for a lesson in the second-grade grammar book of Palestinian children in Gaza. And while it is true that rains are a good blessing, the current “Operation Summer Rains” being carried out by Israel is anything but a blessing. Now, with summer rains being dropped artificially by humans from war planes and tanks, these school children have learned the hard lesson that ‘summer rains’ are neither good, nor a blessing.
For the twelfth consecutive day, such summer rains, which fall unexpectedly and at any moment could hit from above, have already killed more than 40 Gazans including children and women, wounded over one hundred others and destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, rendering a population of 1.3 million in the dark and with no potable water.
2006’s unique summer rains in Gaza have shown themselves to be a curse, not a blessing — not because they have fallen in summer, but rather because they are human-made. This odd kind of rain is made of shells, bombs and bullets belonging to the most sophisticated army in the Middle East region, namely, the army of Israel.
‘Summer Rains’, the code name for the Israeli government’s current unprecedented military aggression on Gaza — the first such invasion since September 2005, have been hitting northern, southern and eastern Gaza so far, and Palestinians fear the worst is yet to come. This operation by the Israeli state is apparently to liberate a soldier of its own who has been held by Palestinian resistance after an unprecedented resistance attack on an Israeli military base in southern Gaza two weeks ago.
The lives of scores of Palestinians, mostly civilians, the latest of whom is the Hajjaj family, killed in eastern Gaza on Saturday, are apparently, in the eyes of Israel, worth less than that of one single soldier ‘Gil’ad Sahalit’, as if Gil’ad’s blood were unique.
Up until the writing of this article, the Palestinian resistance as well as government, represented by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, have repeatedly voiced their intention to end the ongoing soldier crisis peacefully, yet so far such Palestinian good intentions have apparently fallen on deaf ears, as Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has refused such calls.
Those who hold the soldier proposed a prisoners swap; once Israel releases about 320 women and child prisoners, the soldier will return back home safe and intact.
Despite that offer, and despite international mediation efforts and even a call by Gil’ad’s own father call for his government to end the crisis diplomatically, the Israeli leaders, namely Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz have opted for the military solution that has further heightened an already hot summer in Gaza. Now the victims of the invasion are falling by the hour, by the minute and even by the second.
Now, many other would-be victims are huddled in darkened homes awaiting their fate indefinitely, as the Israeli leaders have announced that their operation in Gaza has no time limit, expecting that it could take weeks or months. Until then, hundreds or maybe thousands of Palestinians might face their death on Gaza streets.
How long will the international community and peace lovers around the globe remain silent towards the killing of an entire nation, for the sake one person, who is being held, by all accounts, safe and intact???
Is this the ‘summer rain’ that these schoolchildren will come to know as a reality, instead of the ‘good blessing’ promised by their schoolbooks? Will they begin to associate ‘summer rains’ with bombs and missiles dropping on their homes from above?
Rami Almeghari is currently a Senior Translator at the Translation Department of the Gaza-based State Information Service (SIS) and former Editor in Chief of the SIS-linked International Press Center’s English site. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org