War games

Palestinians children peer into the Hamas building targeted in an Israeli air strike on Gaza, 22 May 2007. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

Just to re-assure my readers, we are alive and well. I’ve just been busy reporting and filming and simply trying to go on with my life. The situation has a way of getting in your head, but to quote my friend Taghreed, you have to put it aside, compartmentalize, and move on with your life.

I published this article in al-Jazeera after speaking to a number of people about how the situation is affecting them.

I was down in Rafah again this week. While inspecting the site of a future park project my friend Fida is working on (and which we are making a film about), we were disrupted every few minutes by the voracious sound of multiple F-16 fighter jets flying overhead in unison. Sometimes one or two, then four or five.

Children scurried about playing football with a deflated basketball on the sand lot.

“Do you think I will be assassinated one day?” one child asked another. He didn’t say this jokingly.

I can’t sleep. I get up maybe once every two hours. Go to the bathroom, walk around a little, and then doze off again. Only to be awakened by the drones, followed by the manic hovering of helicopter gun ships.

This time they were directly over our apartment building. I would have been afraid, except this happened once before, maybe two years ago. Panicked and fearful at the time, I called my cousin, who reassured me that when an Apache is directly overhead, it means its intended target is about 500 metres to one kilometre away. It is information I wish I did not know.

So this time, I didn’t flinch. I just waited for the dreadful conclusion. The intensity of the propeller’s sound waned and intensified at various intervals, until finally two missiles were fired. I could hear them hissing, and then, exploding.

My friend Saeed, who is staying in a hotel next to us, said he saw flashes of light outside — apparently the drones taking pictures of the resulting explosions for keepsakes (and of course to show off to the media how “precise” their attacks are).

Former Israeli Prime Minister and current leader of the opposition Benyamin Netanyahu has called for Israel to cut water and electricity to Gaza. Because that will do a great deal of good, obviously. We are still feeling the effects of last summer’s attack on Gaza’s power plants — especially as summer nears. Electricity is beginning to be rationed and power outages are becoming more frequent now. The UN says there are solutions — but the energy authority, like every other institution in Gaza, is simply too financially strapped.

Electricity for about 50,000 people was cut off two days ago.

Meanwhile, Rafah Crossing is still closed. It has only been open four days over the past month, less than 40 percent of the time over the past year. There are an estimated 5,000 people waiting to cross on either side.

Freelance journalist and blogger Laila El-Haddad lives in Gaza City. Laila’s blog, Raising Yousuf, is named after her two-year-old son.

Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: Israel Attacks Gaza (16 May 2007)