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October 08, 2001
Dear Jules, I am shaking

By Rima Abu Hamdieh


Dear NileMeda Reader: The following letter was emailed from a Palestinian journalist in Hebron to her friend, Jules Rabin. Ms Rabin got permission for us to publish the letter from the young writer, Reema Abu Hamdieh. We chose not to edit it, but publish as written, in a moment of dire distress. As a personal correspondance, it came untitled. We chose the title 'Dear Jules, I am shaking'. Read the letter and you will know why.

I'm fine i guess, so is my family, but on the other hand, we are not fine. Six were massacred with cold blood. We all woke up at 5:00am this morning to the sounds of Apaches hovering and shelling our old neighborhood. My father decided to stay at old house last night because he was supposed to visit someone today there so he didn't want to keep traveling between the two parts of the city as it's hard for him. Oh poor him, he is now trapped and we can't get to him, and he can't come here. The whole area is under curfew, including the new places where tanks are currently settling. Oh Jules I'm shaking, and although it's been twelve hours since they've been killed, I can't stop crying. I don't know them, maybe i saw them in my neighborhood, maybe I didn't, but it's hard the feeling that people just killed like that. a house was completely demolished. Fifteen houses were taken over by Israeli soldiers and their owners were kicked out, thrown out like sheep out of a barn. no value to human dignity and life! Soldiers came into my cousins's house and told him: half of the house is ours, half is yours, don't dare come in ours. They put the flag on the roof and installed their machine guns all over.

I was with a Portuguese journalist and we went to the hospital together, tens of injured and hospital was so full of people. Is this a war? because even in a war, people would have feelings and wouldn't kill just anyone right? We tried to get close to the tanks but was impossible. We went, however, to where some martyrs were killed, one was in front of his house checking what the sounds were when he was shot dead by a helicopter, a fighter plane or whatever. Another, his hand was cut off and sank in a hole made by one of the missiles. We saw some meat of the dead people, and I can't describe what that looked or felt like. Human's meat was scattered on the ground and people just gathered and buried what they could collect. Or maybe I know what it felt like, going to where they slaughter goats and chickens. The Portuguese journalist went to the funeral but I couldn't. The French teacher is at home, unable to believe that this happened in her sleep, when we have planned to do some sightseeing together and planned to sleep late because we are waking up early for work everyday. What a calm day actually! very calm. Only the sounds of mothers weeping and children calling their dead fathers. And I am eating, and my life goes on when others are getting killed just like that. And want to stop all life activities but can't! And I want to stop thinking but can't. And maybe stop crying for a little time but can't. A friend called from Ramallah and I was so mad at her but I don't know why! Oh Jules, I was sad because my father was shot with rubber bullets, and sad because shops in old city have been closed for ages, and mad at people whose life is continuing, and I was making promises to myself that I was gonna accept things as they come, but what do I do now? how do I accept this? I'm afraid every time the phone rings, and every time hear someone cry, every time the wind slams any door anywhere, afraid that the next person knocking on my door will be soldiers coming in to kill us, afraid every time I put on the news channels, they will announce the death of someone I know, and now, even someone I don't know, afraid that they are going to kill us all and no one is doing anything. I am afraid to look people in their eyes, ask them how they feel or what has happened. How could someone be so cruel and killing is such a normal thing for him? But killing is not normal and that is why I'm afraid. I hate it when people ask if I'm ok because I'm not, or when they say, lucky them, martyrs because if they are, they are still dead!! I don't want to go home, and my father is trapped, and Mom calls every two minutes and I try to stop self from sobbing when she's on phone. Fida cries when she hears shooting, Nida tries to calm us down but she cries too, and I can't accept this as something that will happen everyday, as something that is becoming a regular thing because death is not regular, is not normal and shouldn't happen like this! My tears are so hot that they are burning my face, and my voice is going away, and my hands are shaking, and maybe I'm overreacting and shouldn't be doing all of this but I need to let the anger out and this is my only way!