Creating people's geographies
There is no public bomb shelter in any of the Arab communities. Article by Yoav Stern in Ha’aretz
Arab citizens directing anger at Israel as frustration mounts with each new death By Yoav Stern | Ha’aretz
Sirens echoed across the Galilee hills dozens of times yesterday, from Carmiel to Maghar, from Dir Assad to Majdal Krum and back. The first siren of many in Dir Assad sounded while villagers gathered for the funerals of Baha Karim and Mohammed Subhi Manar.
The women ran inside the houses, the teens hugged the walls outside and the old people just kept walking as if they had seen it all before.
The anger among Israel’s Arabs in the north rises every day and with every Arab victim. Yesterday the coffins of the two young victims were carried by young men who were very angry indeed. They chanted, “There is no God but Allah, the shaheed [martyr] is God’s favorite.” The chant changed only once, to “There is no God but Allah, Israel is God’s enemy,” but others immediately drowned them out and the coffin-bearers continued to run.
Many of the thousands of Katyusha rockets fired at Israel have landed in or near Arab communities, and the number of Arab victims is rising. Three women were killed in Arab Daramshe when a missile landed in their yard. Yesterday a wedding procession gathered at the entrance to Ra’ama while plumes of smoke rose from the olive grove across the road, which had been hit by a rocket.
The number of Arabs killed by Katyusha s is high, and not only because they make up half of the Galilee’s population. There are not enough shelters in the Arab communities, but in addition many villagers seem to take a fatalistic approach. “Until I heard the missile fall in the village and rock my home, I wasn’t worried,” one Maghar resident said yesterday, adding, “But as soon as one missile falls in the village, you panic. It made everyone tense. For a few days now we try to go down to the ground floor when the siren sounds,” he said.
A minute later, a siren wails weakly but definitively. “Sit, eat something. Nothing will happen,” the villager tells his guest and continues to eat. Malukhia (a leafy vegetable) with rice and chicken, eaten too quickly to the sound of the siren. “We eat what’s left in the refrigerators, we don’t buy food. For more than three weeks everyone’s stayed at home. There’s no work. We can’t take much more, there must be a cease-fire.”
There is no public bomb shelter in any of the Arab communities. Many residents stand in stairwells or cling to the walls during the air-raids. The Asadi family of Dir Assad goes into their reinforced room or the southern-facing stairwell.
“In the Koran it says death will overtake you even if you are in a high tower. Despite that, I go into the shelter each time,” Mohammed Asdi said yesterday. “I haven’t left the village since the troubles started. I barely even go to weddings, only when I have to. I go for 10 minutes, eat quickly, nervous the whole time,” he says.
The television remotes are working overtime these days. The televisions are on in every Arab home in the Galilee. On Al Jazeera or the Lebanese stations, things look different. “The longer it continues the greater the anger. You can’t ignore the images, the sounds. What do you mean, where is the anger directed? At Israel, of course,” a Dir Assad resident said yesterday.
He says anyone watching the Arab channels gets a very different picture from that seen on the Israeli channels. While the Israeli channels depict a difficult but just war, the Arab satellite stations show constant attacks against civilians. The number of bodies seen on the screens every hour could change someone’s opinion of the justness of this war, and Israel is viewed as the instigator.
Some Galilee Arabs have left their homes. Unlike their Jewish counterparts, rather than moving in with families farther south, many are rescheduling their annual vacation. A few families went to Sinai, particularly to Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh where the prices are relatively low. “One week there costs $1,000, including travel. It’s almost the same as what I’d spend here, and there I’m in a hotel with two rooms for the whole family,” a Nazarene told Haaretz yesterday.