Dheisheh refugee camp

Gaza, repeated, ad infinitum

We woke up this morning to the footage. No less than six hours after we watched, live, the Israeli bombing of a Gaza building last night, the same rogue military turned its jets north to Lebanon to inflict the same. Forty-seven people — yes, 47 — have been killed in Lebanon already as i write this. No doubt this is just the beginning. The footage: a man, covered in chalky soot from the Israeli leveling of a home, carried in his arms the limp body of a toddler. Her arms dangling heavy in his arms, her mop of hair covering her face. 

Portraits of Dheisheh

Shadi sucks on two cigarettes at a time, the twin smoke curling up the side of his right arm like conjoined snakes. The Bethlehem air is crisp and wet; the main street hums with traffic. “Life has a beginning and an end, just like these cigarettes,” he says, pinching them between his calloused fingers. Shadi arches his eyebrow at me, squinting in the muted sunlight streaked across his face. He offers me his L&M pack. I take the last one, and we sit on the curb, silently smoking, watching the three bluish-gray plumes wind themselves up over our heads, dissipating across the concrete rooftops of Dheisheh camp, joining with the hazy fog cover, and settling, invisibly, into the atmosphere, to mingle with the ghosts. 

Miyasar's fear: The Aftermath

Although the house is still standing, the engineers have declared it was too fragile and dangerous, as its foundation has severely been damaged in the explosion by the Israeli army last week.  Impact of the bombs left its fatal marks everywhere; cracks run through every surface, windows and doorframes are blown out, walls are crumbling. As people continue to empty the house for the second and final demolition, this time by workers of UNRWA, Shirabe Yamada spent countless days and nights for the last five years since she has become a close friend of the Hammash family —- rolling stuffed grape leaves with the mother and daughers, conversations on the rooftop over mint tea, laughers and tears. 

Israel teaches Dheisheh's children a lesson they will not forget

1 December 2004 — At a quarter to four this morning the Hamash family building was demolished with explosives by the Israeli Army. At least 12 Israeli military jeeps invaded Dheisheh refugee camp and surrounded the families’ homes, as well as Ibdaa Cultural Center’s kindergarten, which shares the same building. The Army ordered Musa Hamash, Aziz Hamash, Ahmed Hamash, and their families outside into the damp and chilly morning air. They were given 30 minutes to remove as many of their belongings as possible before the bombing. 

Back in Dheisheh: Miyasar's fear

It has been almost a month since Miyasar’s sleeping pattern has changed. Her back neighbor’s house was dynamited by the Israeli army in the early morning of July 13th in the densely populated West Bank refugee camp of Dheisheh. The rumor has it that the next demolition will be her next door neighbor’s house. Every night, Miyasar lays awake in her bed in the fearful anticipation of the arrival of troops. “I wait until around 2AM to fall a sleep, because if they don’t come until then, we know we are saved for the night,” says the mother of 5 children. Shirabe Yamada is back in Dheisheh refugee camp. 

Bethlehem After The Withdrawal

Quiet nights have returned to Bethlehem after the Israeli withdrawal from the area on the 20th. No more waking up to the roaring tanks, sudden burst of explosions and shootings, or not being able to sleep in anticipation of military operations. 

Another Sleepless Night

Curfew was lifted from 9AM to 6PM today, after the terrifying night of house demolitions. In fact, right after I had sent out my last email, another blast vibrated the air, bringing the total number of demolitions to three. The last one was in Aida refugee camp, near the city of Bethlehem.