Your e-mails: Crisis in the Middle East
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(CNN) -- CNN.com 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:
A week into this conflict and I am still waiting to hear back from the American Embassy. The lines are constantly busy and if you are lucky to get though, they put you on hold. All the other countries have or are in the process of evacuating their citizens, and we are still waiting. I hope this response will be better than that of Katrina...
We have been stuck in Beirut for seven days now. We need the American Embassy to get organized and get us out. We are among the lucky Americans. We are in a safe place. Mentally our nerves are wearing thin. Constant bombing. The noise is driving us mad! No word from the Embassy. Only get outside info on what's happening via our family who call us from America. It hurts me to see all the other countries leaving. Please get us out, we want to go home!
I live on a kibbutz in the Golan Heights. So far there have been several alerts, but nothing serious. We all know that if there was any military action in the Golan it would lead to a much broader conflict that would include Syria and probably Iran. As far as my work, I work in the area of tourism and we can already feel the repercussions of what is going on in the region. It's too bad that the economies in this part of the world are so fragile when there could be some much potential for everyone. I still however strongly support the actions of my government.
I am heartbroken. Our lives have changed dramatically. Nothing is the same. Only eight days ago we were going to the beach, having parties, being proud of living in this city that has always been able to rise again, from whatever damage and terror it had been through. We were proud of Beirut with every tourist that we saw, lingering in downtown or through the small streets of Hamra, discovering how versatile and full of life this city is. People are still in the streets but you feel that you can't breathe, you feel there's a curse over the whole city. When I was driving over the bridge that connects west Beirut with the eastern part of the city I looked towards Dahiť. It's darkened by all the smoke, you feel the presence of danger and fear hanging over the city.
I think many more Americans than the 70 that were evacuated want to leave, and my 68-year-old father is one of them. He has been registered with the U.S. embassy (by e-mail) since Friday, yet has not heard from them, except for auto-generated/useless e-mail non-updates. He has tried calling and faxing but there is no answer. The U.S. State Department emergency hotline, whose number has been freely given out as though they actually want people to call, is useless. First you spend two days being disconnected, then if you get connected, you spend maybe an hour on hold. When you speak to someone, as I did today, they tell you to register with the embassy. Their Web site is equally dismal. I have to say it's really depressing to be embarrased by the French, who have already evacuated 900 of their citizens plus 50 of our own. Evacuation seems not to be our forte. I'd almost laugh, except it's my Dad. And it's my country that's failing its citizens again.
I am writing on behalf of my niece Hanna Jebeile, who's currently in Syria, waiting to fly out to Dubai. She was one of the lucky Australians to escape from Lebanon. Unfortunately, she had to leave many of her relatives behind in the south who are currently visiting family members. They are stranded without any way of getting out. My sister Raja Choker (Hanna's aunt) and her husband Faraj are trapped in Nabatyeh. Her other relative Marwa and her 12-year-old daughter Batoul were in the building that was bombed in Tyre and collapsed. They were very lucky to escape uninjured because they were in the basement. They are now staying in a hotel waiting for the mercy of the Australian government. My friend's parents Majed and Widad Mourad are stranded in the south as well; all their five children are in Australia without them and would like them to return home safely. Their kids were totally destroyed when they heard on the news that their parents' village was among the ones that had to be evacuated due to heavy bombing.
I currently have a good friend, her husband and 7-month-old twin sons awaiting evacuation from Lebanon. They are in a village 20 miles outside Beirut. Her sons are running out or may have run out of specialized formula needed. I have been in contact with her via email. From our last contact they were awaiting for a response from the embassy within the next 48 hours or so. All I can do is pray!
I woke up yesterday to the horrible sounds of nonstop missiles falling meters from my home in Kiriat Haim, a small town near Haifa. I'm a student; we were supposed to have final exams these coming weeks. All were cancelled since a missile hit the ORT Braude College on the northern city of Karmiel.
My mother and other close relatives are stranded in Junieh in an apartment building. The two grocery stores near them both ran out of water. I have been in contact with them via mobile phone, which is how the U.S. officials are instructed to contact them. But electricity is on and off, therefore it will be impossible to charge their mobile phone should electricity be permanently cut off. How will they be contacted/instructed for evacuation efforts?
I am an American who lives in Beirut. I left for my yearly summer vacation to my home here in Kentucky with my 3 children on June 30. I thank God I was out when this attack started. I am worried about my family I left back in Lebanon with whom I have kept in contact with by phone and e-mail. I pray that they stay safe and away from harm.
I'm in Israel right now. I came to visit [from] the U.S. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do much because I landed in Israel a day before the war started .... We are sitting and watching the news and in the back of your mind you know that any second now you can hear sirens and you have a minute to run to safety rooms. There is a lot of security everywhere and they are doing a good job at protecting us, but it's just a very scary feeling.
I study at the American University of Beirut. I live here alone; my parents live in the Emirates. My younger brother came to Lebanon to visit me for the summer a few days before the war started, and now we're both stranded here alone. We're trying to leave but I love my country and seeing it come down breaks my heart. And I don't want to have to leave but I want to get my brother to safety. If I leave, I hope I'll be able to come home again soon.
My name is Ilya Miropolsky. I'm a Russian-speaking student from Haifa. I hear now a sound [of] anti-rocket alarm. Our university is empty; almost every student left Haifa and went to south. So do many people who live in Haifa all their life. I have no relatives in Israel, so I didn't have where to leave. I stayed. Almost every 2 hours we hear alarms and sounds of bombing. Rockets are falling at the Haifa from yesterday and in Israel from Thursday. Israeli people are very brave and don't panic, but situation IS VERY SERIOUS and people are scared. For me it is the first time I found myself in situation like this and I'm scared too. My parents call me every day from Ukraine to make sure that I'm OK. (For them it is very expensive to call me, 'cause they aren't rich). Me and my friends in Israel are although in touch every day. On Israeli TV I see [attacked] building in Haifa and the sight is horrible!
I am currently living in Beirut with my wife. We have been living in Lebanon for the last two years and have fallen in love with the Lebanese. Our hearts were broken on Wednesday when the first attacks began. ... We stayed in Beirut as long as we could. Each day just got worse. The Israeli airstrikers attacking Beirut flew directly over our house day and night. ... A friend from the States was there with a group of 11 American students on a cultural experience and our immediate concern was to get them out. I went to the taxi depot downtown to try to get past the land barricade at the Syrian border. Just as I had made arrangements we heard a huge explosion and found that the highway to Damascus was bombed. We found an alternate route and arranged to leave at 5 a.m. ... We picked up the students and two other American friends amidst bombing around us. We raced to the border as fast as possible in three Jordanian vehicles. We chuckled at the irony as our driver blasted the song, "Another One Bites the Dust." As we drove, devastation followed... [an] Israeli fighter bombed the highway behind us. My wife and I were planning to take the students to the border and then return, however, we packed one bag just in case and left our house keys with a friend so he could stay at our house and invite anyone else needing refuge from more dangerous areas of Beirut. A friend in Beirut called me and told me they had just had six new attacks in Beirut and that the game had changed dramatically. His advice was to get out while we had opportunity. My wife and I prayed, and felt like we should cross the border. This was a very emotional decision as our hearts wanted to stay with our Lebanese friends. We are currently waiting in Jordan and praying to return as soon as we can. We left everything we own behind ... I just signed a lease on a new office for our new business just days before this happened. As we have talked to Lebanese friends still trapped inside Lebanon they tell us they are OK, but everything is shut down, they are running out of food and water as well as gas. Please pray for peace in Lebanon!
Hi, my name is Andy. I'm worried about my family. I live in Florida, trying to call my wife and my three children that traveled to Lebanon for vacation, they are now stuck there in the middle of the war. The U.S. embassy told them they would contact them. It has been three days and no one has tried to reach them yet. We are Lebanese-Americans. All the phone lines are down and it is really hard for me to get through to my family, I am very concerned about my family, because I can't do anything about it. [I] only pray that they arrive home safely to the U.S. Please help us.
I'm 33 years old, living in a town 50 km south of Haifa. Right now my wife's sister and her family have fled the north and came to live with us. We too are in the range of Hezbollah missiles, and we have nowhere to run. ... I wish the world would stop choosing sides by religion. I don't care if he is a Muslim and I am a Jew, I care about my year-old son, and I'm sure a Lebanese man is worried about his. ... I wish I could just stand in front of a TV camera and yell "STOP."
We are a group of tourists from Sweden, Cyprus, Finland and Germany that can't find a means to leave Lebanon. We've been looking for taxis that are willing to drive us to Damascus or anywhere in Syria so that we can get on a plane but nobody is willing to do that, we offered twice the asking price but nothing. We need help, we are running out of water and food but I believe if we stick together we can survive. Shops are closed and roads are deserted.
My fiance is Lebanese and living in Beirut .... She has been texting me daily and has today had to evacuate her home that she thought was safe in the eastern part of Beirut as the bombing was getting closer. She thought it was safe as the air attacks were targeting the southern part, but this is obviously now spreading to other parts. I've never known her to be so down, scared and angry as her country that had recovered from previous wars and was back to a wonderful and happy place to live, had now turned to rubble, destruction and a country that will take years to recover, if it ever can.
I am an American, and six years ago I moved to Lebanon and immediately fell in love. I fell in love with the man that is now my husband -- we were married on the coast near Amchit, which was hit two days ago -- and I fell in love with Lebanon itself. Now my beautiful Lebanon is up in flames. My 80-year-old mother-in-law who raised five kids on her own during the civil war is hiding in the mountains. She is old and gray and makes the most incredible food in the world. She has seen more fighting and war than anyone should in their lifetime. My nieces and nephew -- an energetic foursome under 12 years old -- play in the house until sonic booms from jets overhead shake them to their core. They are the ones who suffer; not Hezbollah. If I had one wish for them, it would be that they never see the war and fighting my mother-in-law has seen. I am describing my family in Lebanon, but I could just as easily be describing grandmothers, nieces, and nephews in shelters and safe houses in Gaza or Haifa. They are the ones who suffer; not Hamas or the IDF. They are probably all as scared, and angry, and sad as mine.
I am 16 years old, and live in Beirut, Lebanon, with my mother and three siblings. My father left last Tuesday, back to Bahrain, where he works. After two days, the war began. What I had hoped to be an exciting and fun-filled summer turned out to be a nightmare. Not only are we separated from our father, we live every day in dread that the situation will worsen and turn into a regional war including Iran and Syria. We are Lebanese Canadians, and are hoping to be evacuated, but every time we try and call the embassy, the line is busy. My dad worries more each day, longing to be close to his family, calling us constantly every day. A few days ago I was worrying about how I was going to be able to stay at home every day. Now I worry about how I'm going to stay alive.
I wanted to share my thoughts about the price that our children are paying. Here in Israel it is now a period of two months of holiday. Kids have all kind of options how to spend their vacation time: summer camps, day camps, water parks, trips around the country, etc. Everything was canceled!!! The kids are so disappointed, they have been waiting the whole year for this long vacation, and instead of that, a third of our country spends its time under shelters! I hope this war will make possible for our kids to have many more quiet summers to come after!
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