Can you hear the shelling?

Almost 3am, and there is no point in trying to ignore the sounds and to try sleeping anymore. It is just too loud, too near. The heavy machine gunfire, the thuds of tank shelling. A few silences in between. Silences that hang in the air, expectant.

When the Israeli shelling of Ramallah started to be part of the ‘normal’ nightly sounds, we quickly learned about the differences in the noises. Two thuds, and it is relatively far. Loud, but nothing will hit our house. One loud thud and it is pretty near. I don’t know how near. But it is near now…..

I think that a few hours ago I might have heard some of the Palestinian fire mixed in —the random and almost hollow clak, clak, clak!—— I don’t hear any Palestinian fire anymore. Not for the past few hours.



The silences at the end of a spray of heavy fire are thick. I try to make myself think of other things and not about what might have happened to people closer than me. Upstairs, I can hear Rula walking around. She is always scared about the shelling, even more so now that she just had her first baby. Her baby Elias hardly sleeps, but Rula is relieved that he doesn’t yet attach fear to the sounds. They are just part of his developing repertoire of sounds. Will this be normal for him?


I am going to try and sleep now. There have been no sounds, except the slow hum of wind, for about five minutes now. I know from experience that it is not over- but maybe I can sleep for a few minutes here and there until morning.