Mohammad Darawashe describes what life is like as an Arab Israeli living in Northern Israel during war. Hezbollah does not discriminate between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis in its bombings, and for Darawashe and his family, the Katyusha rocket attacks have become routine. Yet, despite the equal dangers that Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis share in the North of Israel, Jewish towns are better equipped to defend themselves against missile attacks, making Darawashe feel that Arabs are being treated as second rate citizens by the Israeli government. Maybe it is too early to point the finger –states–, but one thing I know for sure is how to sympathize with the innocent civilians who are dying because of this ridiculous show of power.
Mohammad Darawshe is a political analyst. He is cofounder of One Voice Movement, for peace.
FOR OVER A WEEK, MY FAMILY AND I HAVE BEEN GOING through a terrifying experience, living within reach of the Lebanese Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel.
We felt that we had mastered the game, rushing to our bomb shelter on the lower floor of our house within 30 seconds, the time between hearing the sirens, and the actual drop of the shell.
PROTECTION OF FAMILY
My wife and I gave our four kids clear instructions; never to leave the backyard, never to visit friends, never to go down the street, let alone canceling their summer camp activities, parties etc. We also developed a procedure on how to act when the sirens go off.
DEPENDING ON THE WIND
Yesterday all of our preparation got tested. We had very close drops, just hundreds of yards from our house. We had no warning before the bombs hit. No sirens went off to alert us of the danger. Our town is an Arab town with over 12,000 Arab inhabitants, and we have no sirens. We depend on the sirens from the nearby Jewish town, and when the wind blows in the wrong direction they are impossible to hear.
The noise of the first rocket was unbearable and caused us all to panic. Everyone rushed to the bomb shelter, and I had to dash around the house to find my five-year-old daughter who, confused by the lack of siren, had not come down with us. By the time I got to her, she was hunched on the floor, screaming.
SECOND CLASS CITIZENS
I took her down to the shelter and went to the roof to see where the rocket fell, and to call on emergency rescue forces. Outside I saw many children trying to run home, with more noise of rockets falling. They were seeking shelter around our house because their homes were too far away, and we have no public shelters. Jewish towns do. But we do not, which makes me feel that from the government’s point of view, Arab citizens are expendable, second class.
We started calling around to make sure everyone was all right. My sister who lives in Nazareth told me that one of the rockets fell just one hundred meters from her home. Some of her windows shattered and two neighboring children were killed, one a friend of her youngest son. I went to the funeral later that night and buried two innocent children.
WHO IS TO BLAME?
And I asked myself, whom is to blame? Is it the Hezbollah forces that sent these rockets our way? Or is it the Israeli government who has failed to provide adequate protection measures for its Arab citizens? Or should we simply blame it on fate? Or on politicians and war in general?
Maybe it is too early to point the finger. But, one thing I know for sure is how to sympathize with the innocent civilians who are dying because of this ridiculous show of power.