Because not remembering the woes and wounds of this nation is part of why we are where are today, I present to you a guest post by my good friend Hala Hassan.
It was April of 1996. I was a 6 year old girl, growing increasingly scared of a month where I’d wake up to rockets getting fired every single day from the neighboring tanks over the hill and warplanes constantly raping the sky above my house.
Operation Grapes of Wrath was getting scarier, deadlier, more ominous by the minute. Just another regular day of a Southerner back then.
Random memory #1: Zaven, who currently runs a TV show on Future TV, was a news anchor then who, along with his co-anchor short haired Zahira Harb (I don’t know where she is now or what she does), were distinctive figures in my 6 year old memory.
Random memory #2: a man sitting on a plastic chair, head dangling to one side, blood and broken glass everywhere.
My memory of that spring is as vivid as if it were happening now. I can still remember all details of Thursday April 18th and the crystal clear images showing death and horror at every turn.
I remember the faces of UNIFIL soldiers crying and shouting, overwhelmed with the shock, ramble and fire.
The news was shocking. An Israeli raid targeted without any hesitation whatsoever a compound of UNIFIL forces in the Sourthern village of Qana where families had sought refuge, most of which were elderly, kids and women.
Yes it was a massacre, a crime against humanity: flesh and blood melting into the steel, splashed body tissues and fluids on the walls, dismantled and disfigured corpses, beheaded babies, pools of flesh merging into impossibly differentiated individuals.
The Cruelty was caught on tape and registered in minds, reinforced by the sorrow of those who survived and shock.
The whole country was in shock. No excuse could have been given, no excuse would have been accepted and will ever be.
I haven’t seen bigger funerals than the one carrying the victims of Qana to their final resting place. A sea of black, of arms swaying in sorrow under coffins each of which held entire families, their bodies burned together. More than a hundred souls were taken in fraction of seconds. Dreams were blown into little pieces lying together in common graves.
It took me 9 years to make peace with newspapers. My older sister used the idea of Qana newspaper pictures as a way to scare me for years. That’s how childhood in South Lebanon went. I envy the kids who grew up scared of boogeyman.
I know that massacres take place every day around the world, today more than ever, neighboring countries more than distant ones. Civil wars or terrorist attacks, respect goes to every innocent soul in this world that is lost intentionally or as collateral damage in conflicts they may not want to be part of.
Everything feels more intense and more important when it’s personal, which Qana – to me – undoubtedly is, but the point behind all of this is that terrorism has no nationality, no color and no ethnicity.
Recognize the terrorists. It is never too late to be fair.