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Your e-mails: Crisis in the Middle East



(CNN) -- asked readers affected by the attacks in the Middle East to send us their stories. Here is a sampling of the responses, some of which have been edited:

I am alive. We are in a cellar hiding from Israeli fire, but we are alive. We lack water, electricity and bread but we are alive. Our country is in ruins; all bridges and infrastructure are down, but we are alive. My 6-year-old wants the electricity to come on so that he can charge his PSP; to him that's a major issue. To me, we are alive, and that's enough.
Moustafa Assad, Sidon, Lebanon

I live in Haifa, the north sea port of Israel. Today, I lost a good friend, who was killed by the rocket that hit the city. Today, at 9 a.m. the sirens went off, and all of us, scared, went to find shelter. Then, we heard the noise of the rocket hitting its target, not knowing the location and the outcome. I tried to call my friend, who works in the Israeli railway workshop, with no answer. At that moment I felt that something happened to him. I tried a few more times to contact him and his family. I felt anxious and did not know what to do. Then, I got the call from another friend of ours. His voice was crying ... our friend was killed today, among the eight people killed in Haifa. May God bless him. He was so honest, so nice, so young! God, stop this bloodshed!
Nir, Haifa, Israel

I was in Lebanon two weeks ago visiting my family, along with my kids. I returned the end of June but both my boys are still there and were scheduled to return with their grandparents the 24th of July. They are 6 and 9 years of age. I am worried sick and praying for their safe return. No word from the embassy yet on a date for evacuation. I am working on a ticket to Cyprus to meet them there as soon as I know when they will be arriving. They are in Beirut currently and are acting braver than I ever was growing up in the war in Lebanon.
Rana Jaafar, Tulsa, Oklahoma

I am a Canadian living in Israel for nothing to do with political reasons (I met my Israeli husband while traveling in India 5 years ago). I have been living here for the past 3 years (although our permanent plans include settling in Canada). I used to live in Haifa, now I live in the same area (the North) but in a little town called Tivon (30 min south-east of Haifa). I was in Haifa when the bus got blown up and when the U.S. attacked Iraq. It was scary to be here when the bus was blown up and when we had to carry gas masks and there was the threat of biological warfare and scud missiles being launched on Israel. But it was new then. Now it's different. First off, I have a new baby, a 6 month old girl, my first child. Secondly, for the last while the rules of the game were the same. It was Israelis vs. the Palestinians. You sort of knew what to expect and you trusted that the Israeli security forces knew how to handle it and how to protect you, if you obeyed a few basic rules, like making sure you went to public places only if there was a security guard. As well as which, with the building of the separation fence, attacks in the North decreased and we all felt safer. Now, everything has changed and I am very anxious. Suddenly the rules of the war game are completely different. It's not the Palestinians and the Israelis anymore, it's also Lebanon. And through Lebanon it could get worse to include Syria and Iran. The entire region is completely unstable, which has always been the case, but for a while, it was stable in it's instability, everything is being reshuffled now. This sends me to panic at times. It could ignite so terribly fast with all the hot tempers and military strength around here in an area where force is the most frequently used way to get your point across. On the other hand, whatever I think of Israel's politics, it does do a fabulous job of protecting it's citizens. Israel is a strong military with the support of the U.S. Most likely we will be safe. The risk of a car accident is still greater than the risk of a rocket falling on you. And even though I can understand the average Israeli's take of the situation, for me, being a peacefully brought up Canadian, this experience vacillates between being terrifying (when I want to flee) and surreal (if I consider staying). In addition, the area where we are living is very close to an army base and we hear jets flying over at least every quarter hour. This doesn't help my emotions, as it is a constant reminder of the state of war which the region is in. Previously, we only heard the jets once or twice a week!
Ania Taller Tivon. Israel

I am an American Lebanese who lives in Lebanon; my husband lives in the States. We have three children who live with me in Lebanon... Now I'm here in Florida on vacation with my husband. I was supposed to go back to Lebanon at the end of July, but now I cannot. That is not the problem, the problem is that my three children who are only a 6-year-old girl (Millennia), a 5-year-old girl (Aya), and a 4-year-old boy (Jacob) are stranded alone in Lebanon. I and their dad are stuck here, no way to get there to bring them to the U.S.
Carolina Kmaid, Daytona Beach, Florida

I am an Israeli citizen and my parents are currently in the U.S. My mother is very worried and she calls me every day with much anxiety, as things seem even worse when you are far away from the events, especially if you are hooked up so closely to the Internet for a few hours each day. On the one hand I don't want to worry her, on the other, I myself am worried like everyone else, but I try to soften my reports. My mother is considering returning back home from a long-term trip. I work in a basement in Tel-Aviv, which suffers from bad air or lack of air more often than not, but no doubt it is the best place to be if a rocket hits here, like [Hassan] Nasrallah threatens. It's horrible that innocent people are hurt on both sides, but the world must know and understand that people like Nasrallah, [Osama] Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, cannot be reasoned with in a normal manner.
Shlomit Coen Maoz, Tel Aviv, Israel

I am a Lebanese-American who is visiting Lebanon for the summer. I was due to return on the 28th of July but now I am stuck and waiting for the evacuation. Lebanon is an amazing country and it is very sad that it is being destroyed this way. We are all hoping and praying that everyone stops bombing and people will quit dying. I have been lucky to be far away from any of the bombings, but it is sad to hear the jets fly over and to hear the bombs exploding in the distance. I can see Beirut from my balcony and even through the smoke I have faith we will rebuild and we will live again and Beirut will be beautiful again.
Ziad Chihane, Deek El Mehdi, Lebanon

I am 17 years old and I just arrived in Turkey. I escaped Beirut two days ago and it was the hardest decision I have ever made. I decided at 6 p.m. that I was going to leave Beirut via the only road left to Syria and then drive till the borders of Turkey. I stayed 20 hours in a bus full of people worried that we could get bombed at any moment. I feel so bad because I left all the people I love there and they are stuck now! This was supposed to be a very good summer with a lot of musical gigs and a lot of tourists, which was very good for Lebanon. I have no idea what's going to happen, I only hope that all of this madness is going to stop as soon as possible. This can't go on this way! This is the 21st century. How can people still think about war?
Janane, Beirut, Lebanon

On the verge of one of the most successful tourist seasons Lebanon has ever had, this conflict broke out to further burden a population already suffering from poverty and stagnation. It's a shame for a country that could -- and still can -- be a beacon for true democracy in the region to suffer such a setback. As a Lebanese citizen, I lived through all my life among war, death and destruction -- it grieves me now to see my children living in the same conditions I swore I would never let them see.
Iyad Abdelnour, Beirut, Lebanon

I have a 15-year-old child in Israel. He was sent there for five weeks with other children to see and visit the country. We, like many others, are helpless in making arrangements for his return.
Denise Kalt, Franklin, Michigan

I am 16, and I am in Lebanon with my two younger brothers. My parents are frantic with worry, but there is no way out. All major roads in the country have been destroyed. We are stuck, and our embassy is not even answering the phone anymore. We have no idea what is going on. All we want now is to go home.
Jenna, Chemstar, Lebanon

I live in the area that has just been threatened. The situation here is serious because the area a missile may strike is not clear. I feel safe though because we are in a city due east of Tel Aviv, and hopefully it is safer here. For now it is relatively calm. I do volunteer at the police station, and if anything happens in my area I need to go and help. ... I have been living in Israel for a year; I was living in the States my whole life before this. This is my first experience being so close to a war, and it is much different than hearing about it on the news.
Eric, Hod Hashron, Israel

I'm an American citizen vacationing with my father in Lebanon. We were set to leave the 14th of July, but since the bombings are stuck in Lebanon. We find ourselves like the Lebanese people: hostages, terrorized by Israeli bombs, with nobody to defend us. We are frantically awaiting relief from the U.S. Embassy.
Kellee, Los Angeles, California

I came to live in Israel 15 years ago from the United States. At the time I genuinely believed that there was a great opportunity for peace. But now, as I sit here in my home, not far from Haifa, I realize how things have gone terribly wrong and how much things have changed. I used to be a "leftie." Now I am no longer sure how I would define myself. The only thing that comes to mind is "tired and scared." I ask myself, how did this happen? Where did we go wrong? Why are there rockets and missiles attacking all of us? But one thing is for sure, hatred and anger are seeping into my heart. The sympathy and understanding are flowing out. With each Katyusha that lands here, the flow speeds up.
Cheryl, Zichron, Israel

I am a 17-year-old student living in Dubai but am a British citizen. I am currently residing on the American University of Beirut campus for a program that allows international students like myself to learn about the culture and history of Lebanon, as well as the language. Throughout the last few days, I have been witnessing the escalating conflicts between Israel and Lebanon, and what started off as a fun and educational holiday turned into a chaotic nightmare. All we can do is sit and wait for help, completely powerless ... We had no idea that this kind of terrifying warfare would happen, and now that it has, we are trapped inside and can't get out.
Dima Hamati, Beirut, Lebanon

Everyone where I live and study is in a heightened state of worry and danger. We're praying that the crisis ends soon, that the loss of life ends. We just finished a fast, praying for the safety and safe return of the captured soldiers. We've stopped listening to music, stopped shaving and entered a period of mourning.
Danny, Jerusalem

I am sitting in my kitchen eating a falafel, hearing the rockets whizzing overhead. Out in the blue sea I can see the Israeli warships block our port. My six children are terrified, and they are not able to go to school. We are all brothers and sisters in this world. May this war end soon.
Mohammed Abu Sheikh, Beirut, Lebanon

My daughter was studying at the Lebanese American University in Beirut and is a student at Boston College. [The students] have escaped to Byblos with the clothes on their back. She called today in total desperation. The adjoining town of Junieh has been bombed, cell phone towers are down and the Christian enclave they were told would be a safe haven is now under attack. Her plea -- and that of all the students in her group -- was, "Please, mommy, don't let us die here. Everyone is now terrified and desperate. This Christian area of safety is under attack. When are we going to be evacuated?"
Jean Kluck, Farmingdale, New York

I am one of 6 students from Teaneck, New Jersey, who came to Israel for a three-week program from the UJA Federation of Bergen County to work in Nahariya in a day camp for Israelis, teaching them English. We were in Nahariya when the missiles started, and we heard the noises, and even witnessed a field that had been hit by a missile. We spent a total of about eight hours in a bomb shelter, four at night (Wednesday), and four again in the morning (Thursday), and were only then taken out when the roads were "safe enough" for a cab to take us. Where we are now is somewhat of a safer place, but we're still in the relative north. We constantly still hear the missiles hitting, and we see and hear the military planes and helicopters flying above. Initially we were going to be moved in Nazareth, but due to the escalating circumstances, our program has now been cancelled. Personally, I will still be staying in Israel until August 7 as previously planned, but I believe the rest of the kids on the program are being sent home. We're all hoping that the situation improves fast and that Israel and its people will no longer be in danger.
Gavi Lewy-Neuman, Shcania, Israel

I'm Lebanese and I live in the U.S., but I came to Kuwait to visit my parents, and we were all planning on going back home to Lebanon to spend a wonderful summer, as we do every year. But the attacks happened. They destroyed the airports and destroyed every means of transportation for people in the southern villages and towns to leave.

I'm from a small village in the south called Ain-ebel. We do not support Hezbollah, but 15 Israeli missiles hit and destroyed my beautiful village. We are devastated. My relatives are there: my aunt, my cousins and my uncle -- not to mention those Lebanese who were supposed to spend two weeks in Ain-ebel for the summer and leave. Now these people are stuck, in constant fear, under attack. Hezbollah missiles were planted in our village, and they're firing from Ain-ebel's territory without the consent of the people who live there.

The roads that lead to Beirut are destroyed, the bridges that lead to Beirut are destroyed, and everyone is stuck there with no food, no electricity and no water. The people from that village are trying to help our families there by spreading the word that we, those people and towns that do not support Hezbollah or their actions, are innocent. People are hiding in the church, which was renovated not too long ago. It is a big church, but can it take Israeli missiles?

My relatives are scared of dying, are scared of ending up homeless again; we don't not want history to repeat itself. We have had enough. I call on the Lebanese all over the world and the U.N.: Please help my village survive this dreadful act of Hezbollah. I feel betrayed, that nobody is mentioning those people back in my village. Those who have no voice to be heard, I refuse to let them die in vain. Hezbollah is getting out of control to the point of declaring war against Israel, without the consent of the Lebanese government. They are destroying what Lebanon had been trying to rebuild for the past 10 years just for the lives of three prisoners, is it worth it?

I'm not there right now, but I can be their voice. Lebanon will live on. They are fighting each other on Lebanese soil, and this is immoral.
Dana K., Tempe, Arizona

I am of Armenian descent. I have all my relatives in Lebanon. My entire family, including my son and my little nephew, went to visit our relatives. I have been constantly calling them to make sure they are safe. I was frightened when I heard the port in Junieh was hit, because they were at the chalet in Junieh. I went crazy when I couldn't get ahold of them. When I finally got through, they told me they had escaped into a basement. My son was crying for me to help him. He's only 13. My nephews are 5 and 2. I also have a newborn niece. Can you please help us to find a quick escape? I heard Italy and other countries have been successful in taking their citizens.
Rose, Sarasota, Florida

My daughter Lana is going to be 14 on August 1. She went to Los Angeles to visit her father for part of the summer and then after one week got an invitation to go visit her father's relatives and cousins. I felt a bit hesitant, though she has been going to Beirut ever since she was a baby. This time she went with relatives of her grandparents, leaving to Beirut via Paris. I didn't want to disappoint her and say no, so I agreed when her father told me of the trip. I am now very concerned for her safety as well as the safety of the family she is with. They are wonderful people, and I know they are doing everything possible to comfort her. I myself used to go every summer and found Lebanon beautiful and its people full of life despite the past civil war and all of the hardship these people have suffered. As a mother, I feel so helpless and as a human being feel so sad that Lebanon must once again face possible ruin of its sovereignty and the strength it took so long to rebuild. Mr. Rafik Hariri would be so sad to see this country he loved and worked so hard to rebuild return to such a horrible past. May God help everyone reach peace and may God return my beautiful daughter safe and unharmed soon.

Sincerely, a mother wishing to hug her daughter and tell her how much she loves her.
Linda Hageali, Miami, Florida

My wife just spoke to her aunt in Carmiel, northern Israel. Her aunt just came back with her family from vacation only to find her new house hit with a Katyusha, which landed in her daughters' room. Had they not gone on vacation, her teenage daughters would have been dead.
Alex, Staten Island, New York

People are desperate. The telephone number posted only says the lines are full, call back later, and then clicks off. My beautiful daughter and family are trapped in southern Lebanon, in Sidon, now without even cell phone contact. Last news was Israel was bombing randomly in the region. This is unacceptable.
Brenda Rose, Montreal, Quebec

I am a Lebanese American currently staying at my family's country residence in Shemlan, Lebanon, located in the mountains above Beirut. My fiance and I came here with the intentions of writing our graduate school dissertations and enjoying the vibrant city life, beautiful beaches and natural beauty of Lebanon. We now find ourselves watching in disbelief as the bombs fall and smoke billows in the city below us. As I write this I am sitting in the garden, amidst three dozen olive trees, a symbol of peace that now seems so distant. We pray for a resolution and anxiously await news of evacuation.
Patricia Karjian, Shemlan, Lebanon

I am studying at a university in Jerusalem, but I live in Toronto. I want to say that the situation appears to be surprisingly normal here in Jerusalem. People are going about their daily routines as normal, and I am continuing my research and studies at the hospital. I also have a younger sister who is in Tel Aviv doing volunteer work for another week before returning to Toronto. She also hasn't noticed anything unusual there, but we are both keeping up-to-date with the situation. The current situation is in stark contrast to six years ago in Jerusalem, when I was also here during my first degree, during the initial phase of the Second Intifada. At that time, people here were much more affected by the suicide bombings in the city occurring on a near-daily basis. The fear of terror is nothing new to the people here, and I guess it shows in the way people are handling the current situation.
Benji Matta, Toronto, Ontario

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