War games

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. 

Sderot created the Gaza Strip

Yesterday eight members of one family were murdered on the spot in Israel’s latest military strike on Gaza. The target, doctor Khaleel Al-Haya, a Hamas member, remained unharmed. Later in the day Islamic Jihad responded by firing two homemade rockets into Gaza. One Israeli citizen was killed, another wounded. This sounds like a horrible, but straightforward series of events. The only aspect that calls for attention is that one of these attacks is considered terrorism, while the other is mentioned in most media outlets only in passing, and referred to as a legitimate attempt on a bad man’s life. 

More civilian deaths in Gaza

In an isolated barley field, located just few hundred meters away from the Israel-Gaza border line in eastern Rafah city, a heap of barely lies in the middle of the field. The field is now abandoned — why? Not because there are no farmers in the area, but rather because the Loulahi family, who had been harvesting barely, were hit by Israeli missiles. Samah, the daughter, was killed, and Ahmad, the son, killed as well. The father Sulieman was wounded, while A’isha, 19, is being reated at the nearby European Hospital after sustaining shrapnel wounds to her leg. 

The ghostly streets, the ghostly skies

17 May 2007 —We’re used to things going from bad to worse very quickly here. But we never expected the situation to get as bad as it has over the past few days.After a terrifying 24 hours, we awoke this morning to sporadic gunfire, and ghostly streets. It was a welcome change. Sleep-deprived and anxious, my colleague Saeed, on his first visit to Gaza, and myself headed to Rafah in the southern part of the Strip to continue shooting a series of documentaries we are working on. 

As Gaza Burns

Things have been crazy in Gaza over the past two days. Very crazy. In between working and actually trying to keep our wits about us as we’ve been holed up indoors for two days no, I’ve had little time to blog. Things are tenusouly calm at the moment with on-again-off-again gunfire, which is better than it was only a few hours ago. But things in Gaza have a way of changing very quickly-for better or for worse. Volatility is its defining characteristic. We happen to be sort of be in the eye of the storm as it were. 

A double Nakba in Gaza

My pen is bleeding, my hand is shaking, my heart is sighing and my mind is stuffed with the bitter experiences of the past 14 months. The latest is today’s anniversary of the Palestinian catastrophe (Nakba); today is a double Nakba. My ideas are scrambled; however, I must rein them all in and allow my words to flow, with the hope of reaching hearts, minds and souls. “I prefer death to these days; death is much better than these moments when a brother kills his brother”, said Yousef Almadhoun, also known as Abu Mohammad, a 77-year-old man from the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya. 

Gaza: Calm before the storm

This must be what they call the calm before the storm. By 7pm all the main street intersections in Gaza City were filled with guards wearing face masks. It seems every time a new security plan is declared in Gaza the situation gets worse. This morning my friend Jamal greeted his neighbor Baha’ Abu Jarad as he left his home for a days work; ten minutes later Baha’ was dead. Jamal, shaken up, informed me of the incident over the phone, while trying to hold back tears. 

Gaza's fish break the blockade

Joy has filled the hearts of hundreds of Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip this week as they expressed their happiness over the most plentiful fishing season in 40 years. The news is all the more sweet considering the Israeli navy’s restrictions on fishing off of Gaza’s coast. There are some 433 boats registered at Gaza’s port, but only a few of them are seaworthy; fewer still risk the Israeli-imposed ban on Gaza’s fishermen. Collectively, Palestinian fishermen have seen their monthly catch drop from 823 tones in June 2000 to as low as 50 in late 2006. 

In Gaza, chaos versus democracy and democracy versus chaos

“Perhaps some youth are trying to imitate what’s going in the outside world; we don’t have solid information on the existence of such groups,” said Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Helal in response to the recent attack on a UN-operated school in Rafah City. Early this week, a group of militants opened fire on a celebration at a UN-operated elementary school in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, having warned ahead of time that the event was “indecent.” 

Paralysis, prophets and forgiveness

Five years ago, nine-month-old Mohammed and his grandmother were in their West Bank home when it began to fill with nerve gas from a nearby Israeli Occupation Forces military base. The army had moved in on a hill near their home in the Skan Abu Absa suburb of Ramallah, and would frequently shoot all over the surrounding area, often retaliating against Palestinian gunfire from a hill away from the suburb. As the gas seeped into his living room, the baby Mohammed began to shake violently before suffering a stroke causing extensive paralysis.