We stayed at the seaside until our shadows had become twenty-foot silhouettes on the sand. Then we went back to the olive grove, packed up our belongings, and the children bundled into the cars my brothers and I had driven that day, for the short journey home. Laughing about the day's events, mimicking and teasing each other as children do, the older ones looking out for the younger ones, they were bound together like rolls of twine in the backseats of the cars. As I drove, I listened to them chattering away, and I thought to myself, "We are getting there - they will be okay. Together, we can do this."
Exactly thirty-five days later, on January 16 at four forty-five PM., an Israeli tank shell was fired into the girl's bedroom, followed swiftly by another. In seconds, my beloved Bessan, my sweet, shy Aya, and my clever and thoughtful Mayar were dead, and so was their cousin Noor. Shatha and her cousin Ghaida were gravely wounded. Shrapnel in his back felled my brother Nasser, but he survived.
The aftermath was carried live on Israeli television. Because the Israeli military had forbidden access to journalists and everyone wanted to know what was happening in Gaza, I had been doing daily interviews with Shlomi Eldar, the anchorman on Israel's Channel 10. I had been scheduled to do one that afternoon. Minutes after the attack occurred, I called him at the TV station; he was doing the live newscast, and he took the call on air.
The footage shot around the world and showed up on YouTube and in the blogosphere. Nomika Zion, an Israeli woman from Sderot, the town that is on the receiving end of Qassam rockets, said: "The Palestinian pain, which the majority of Israeli society doesn't want to see, had a voice and a face. The invisible became visible. For one moment it wasn't just the enemy - an enormous dark demon who is so easy and convenient to hate. There was one man, one story, one tragedy, and so much pain." This is what happened to me, to my daughters, to Gaza. This is my story.
Excerpted from I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish. Copyright © 2011 by Izzeldin Abuelaish. Excerpted by permission of Walker & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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