Saturday, 5 August 2006
CASUALTIES OF WAR: FAMILIES IN ISRAEL:
Arabs are among the dead and wounded in Hezbollah rocket attacks
Monsour Abbas peers at a hole in a roof created by the rocket that killed his cousin, Doua. Photo by David Blumenfeld, special to the Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Saturday, August 5, 2006 Page A - 1
Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service
Maghar, Israel -- Fifteen-year-old Doua Abbas was sitting with her older sister, Hana, quietly reading a book at her home high on the hill in the picturesque village of Maghar when they heard the eerie wail of the air-raid siren.
The village of 18,000, a model of peaceful coexistence among Muslims, Christians and Druze in the Galilee region of northern Israel, had never been attacked. But seconds later, there was a deafening explosion as a Hezbollah rocket slammed into the hillside not far away.
Doua's mother was sitting in the next room. Shaking with fear, Imtiaz Abbas called her daughters to come to her. Seconds later, a Hezbollah rocket launched from southern Lebanon smashed through the roof of the one-story house, burst through the wall of the next room and sliced through Doua where she sat.
The Iranian-made Raad 2 rocket kept going, smashing through the window, sailing over the next house and landing 200 yards down the hill.
Doua's body was cut to pieces, her blood and flesh spattered across the walls and furniture. Hana escaped with minor injuries but suffered a trauma that will haunt her forever.
"Doua hated the war," her mother said. "Whenever she saw something about the war on the television, she said she was against it. She hated the killing. She would ask me, 'Why? Why are people being killed like this?' I told her that hopefully, with God's help, the war will soon end. But it was too late for her."
More than a week after the tragedy, Imtiaz Abbas doesn't know if she can ever go back to the home where the youngest of her six children died. It lies in ruins, a gaping hole in the roof and wall, the metal reinforcements in the concrete torn and twisted.
"She was such a clever girl, and she had so many dreams," she said, her eyes filled with sorrow. "She was an outstanding student at school and dreamed of going to university to study pharmacy or law. She could have done either."
The family are strict Muslims. Now they live with relatives a few yards away.
"My faith in Allah helps to sustain me," Imtiaz Abbas said. "My family and their support are helping us through this terrible time. It's very difficult. I pray every day to God to help all the mothers who have lost their children. I feel their sorrow. I pray for an end to the war and an end to our pain.
"I call on all the mothers around the world to rise up and tell their leaders to end this killing of children."
Doua's father, Hosni Abbas, an unemployed laborer, said their faith and close-knit family has sustained them through the tragedy, together with the support of the whole village, which turned out by the thousands to bury Doua in the tiny cemetery halfway up the hill.
"There is a terrible sadness, but we do not feel any anger," he said. "We do not blame anyone. We do not seek revenge. We find comfort in our faith, and we accept the will of Allah, but we pray that the killing will stop."
This week, the rockets returned to Maghar. Five landed in open fields around the village Wednesday, but no one was hurt. But Friday, Manal Azzam, a 27-year-old mother of two, was killed and two other residents were seriously wounded when a rocket hit an apartment building.
About one-third of the Israeli civilians killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks since July 12 have been Israeli Arabs, most of them children. Three teenagers died Thursday when a Hezbollah rocket hit a field near their village of Tarshiha on the northern border. Two Israeli Arab children were killed when a Hezbollah rocket landed in Nazareth on July 19.
Imtiaz Abbas, 48, lost her 15-year-old daughter when a rocket smashed into their living room in northern Israel. "My faith in Allah helps to sustain me," the devout Muslim said. Photo by David Blumenfeld, special to the Chronicle
Doua Abbas, 15, was killed in her living room by a rocket launched from southern Lebanon.