Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The story

To all who care about the children in Gaza:

I have just returned from 3 and a half weeks in Egypt and Gaza with Dr. Mona El-Farra delivering an ambulance, 4 tons of much needed pediatric medicine, tons of milk and baby cereal, 29 wheelchairs, and a truckload of crayons, magic markers, paper and coloring books for children in Gaza. It was a very trying visit.

I have been to Palestine many times over the past 21 years but never have I seen anything like what I saw this time. I will never forget the sadness, the smell, the destroyed homes, schools, mosques and cemeteries. I want to make clear this is not an apology but an explanation of what happened.

While I was away I told a story that was told to me by several people about a family in Gaza. This story received much attention and many people wanted more information so I contacted
my friend Talal and asked him to research the story. Here is his response:

Dear Barbara,

It's the first time i have had internet. I hope you are and all of our friends.

I heard from Dr. Mona that you are under great pressure because of the story you have published about the crime of that woman. Be sure that it was a fact and we are ready to receive any investigation committee to check out the facts. But as you know during the wars and when death is very close, the popular memory interferes and colors the action with it's special details.

We all heard the story on the local radio as I narrated it to you. But when you wrote the story and you faced so much pressure I decided to investigate and caught the real story.

It's not so far from from what you reported because the victims are the same...the story happened in Bourij Camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The Israelis called the woman Manal Albatran and told her that they wouldn't kill her or her husband Hussein Albatran, instead they would make them die of sadness because they would kill her children. The next day they shot her house with a rocket killing her and 5 of her children.

The dead:
Manal Albatran 30 years old
Walaa Albatran 12 years old
Islam Albatran 11 years old
Belal Albatran 10 years old
Ezzeldin Albatran 8 years old
Ehsan Albatran 7 years old

The father who is an employee at an UNRWA school and the youngest child were saved.

This is the real story and I hope the amount of victims will convince others to believe the crimes we face. Thanks a lot for your appreciated visit and I hope to see you again soon.

Talal Abushawish

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