'I Lost Two Sons to the War, Now I'm Losing the Others'

The Taluza family's two young sons were killed by a Katyusha barrage on Nazareth during the Second Lebanon War.

Ten months after the deadly attack, and long after the war ended, the family has still not received psychological or financial help in getting back on its feet.

Muataz Taluza, 14, blames himself for the death of his two little brothers - Rabia, aged three and a half, and Mahmoud, aged seven and a half. He was walking with them through the narrow streets of Nazareth's Tzfafara neighborhood on their way to their cousin's house. He encouraged them to race each other and they started running. Seconds later a rocket struck them both.

The family has steadily deteriorated since the tragedy.

"I lost two of my sons that day, and I'm losing those who remain every day," said Abed Taluza, the father of the family, 10 months after the tragedy. He said that it is especially difficult in the morning, when the six surviving children are awakened to go to school, as well as when they return to have their lunch and during the holidays.

"They say that when your child dies, you lose a piece of your heart. I've lost two," Taluza whispered with tears in his eyes. "My children live in constant fear. Every time they hear a siren, they jump."

Despite the trauma, the Taluza children have not yet received the necessary, and promised, psychological treatment.

'Deal with the pain'

"I'm not talking about the financial compensation," said Abed. "It's more important that the children resume normal life. I'm holding the family together, but we need professional care to deal with this pain. Especially the children."

Shortly after the deadly attack, Taluza made headlines when he blamed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the death of his sons and refused to denounce Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

"I still blame Olmert," Taluza said yesterday. "He was responsible for my safety. He is the one who is supposed to provide shelters for my children and a siren. I didn't blame him for what happened to my children alone, but for all the people who lost their children because of his arrogant decision in a moment of anger. He could have prevented many deaths. Do you think I don't grieve for the mothers who lost their sons in the war? I feel their pain more than Olmert does."

"Everyone blames Olmert for embarking on a superfluous war," said the children's uncle, Mahmoud. "[Shimon] Peres, father of Israel's nuclear reactor, objected to the war, as did many others. So why is it that when we blame Olmert, they threaten not to compensate us? Everyone expresses their opinion in this country, but when it comes to Arabs, then it's wrong."

The Taluzas chose their words carefully. They expressed solidarity with the Jewish war casualties and tried not to mention Nasrallah.

"What is he to me?" said the uncle. "He thinks he's fighting for his people's freedom? Fine. It's of no interest to me, I'm a citizen here and I'm the one who should be protected. We live in a whirlpool. In the Arab states, we're 'traitors,' and here, we're a 'fifth column.' I'm an Israeli citizen, I'm loyal to the state and do not threaten its security. But I will not become a Jew. I will look after the state and protect it when it starts looking after me and protecting me. What rights do we have here, what services do we get? Look around you and see. We're citizens only come elections."