At the end of a ceasefire that never was

There is shooting along the border and shooting at weddings and for an untrained ear it’s hard to tell the difference except by location. A Kalashnikov is low and hollow and echoes. An M-16 is a bit shriller, a bit louder. Machine gun fire comes from the border only. Tank shells come from the border only. Laura Gordon reports from Rafah. 

Gaza's Abu Holy checkpoint dismantled

“We danced past Al-Matahin checkpoint today, waved to the soldiers hidden in the military towers guarding the bridge as we skipped past the warning sign in three languages, “Forbidden to stop under this bridge,” and then the bridge itself, and ran past Abu Holy checkpoint to join the crowd of journalists, travelers, and curious people who had gathered to watch the Israeli army do what no one had dared imagine possible.” Laura Gordon writes from Rafah. 

Israel's June 25th incursion into Rafah's Hay Salaam district

“It is no longer surprising to anyone here that American citizens get treated as Palestinians. It has been clear for ages that America does not take care of its own, much less those who come from such forgotten places as Rafah. As US passport holders, we have been advised by our embassy to leave the area. It is our own fault for being there if we are injured; our country has aligned itself nicely with Israel’s new policy of disclaiming any responsibility for human life in the Gaza Strip.” Laura Gordon writes from occupied Rafah. 

A quiet night on Rafah's sliding scale

“It is still light out when we get to Abu Jameel’s garden. Rows of cactus line the road, bulbous green hedges expanding the boundaries between gardens. Cement box houses punctuate the land, which is a flat expanse of greenery and sand. It is the season for corn, and stalks reach high as somebody’s head. Watermelon vines cover the earth, weaving here and there around large squashes.” Laura Gordon writes from Rafah 

The ghosts of Rafah

“Rafah, you are going to break my heart. People coming, people leaving, bleary eyed ghosts. The football moon illuminates the soft city full of soft people laying down to dreams unraveling in their hands. Even the concrete fades into sand. Even the refuse, covered with sand, catches fire in the night. The dreams of waste are heavenbound.” Laura Gordon writes from beseiged Rafah. 

Rafah, home of the strongest people in the world

“It’s past midnight and the only sound is the ceiling fan pushing the muggy summer air around and around, while no matter how hard I wash my skin still retains a faint layer of dirt, dust, and sweat. The fan drowns out the sound of bullets, mostly, so you can sleep in our apartment now cloaked is some illusion of normalcy. We got the fans a couple of weeks ago, when the heat became unbearable and we were feeling rich.” ISM activist Laura Gordon writes from Rafah. 

"I was a human shield": An Israeli visits ISM in Rafah

“Rains of ammunition, bullets came down on us on that one single night. A single night, for me. The shooting went on continuously from 1.30 to 4.15, near the first light…’So they never hit your house itself?’ I ask him with an enormous burst of hope. ‘Oh, sometimes they do. Look at the bullet holes’. I raise my head and look to the sides. The ceiling is fool of holes, the side walls are cut up. So is the kitchen wall near the tap, near the table, in the toilet, one centimetre from the children’s beds. Some of the holes have been filled up. Every night, once the shooting ends, Jamil closes the bullet holes with white cement. The walls are patchwork, and if you dare approach the window you can see that Jamil and Nora’s home is surrounded by ruins on all sides.” Israeli peace activist Billie Moskona-Lerman writes about a night spent in Rafah, southern Gaza. 

ISM: Israeli soldier shoots British ISM activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza

Between 4:30 and 5:00 PM today Israeli snipers shot another ISM activist in the head. Tom Hurndall from Manchester Britain is currently in critical condition in an Israeli hospital. He is 22 years old. According to Laura, the activists were being shot at while protecting some children from Israeli gunfire. Tom was in plain view of the sniper towers and was wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket with reflective stripes. The nine ISM activists and many children were in the process of leaving the area. Sniper fire from the tower was hitting the wall close beside the children, who were afraid to move. Tom was attempting to bring them to safety when he was shot. There was no shooting or resistance coming from the Palestinian side at all. 

First major ISM anti-bulldozer action since Rachel Corrie killing

“At about 5pm, we received a call from a Palestinian journalist friend of ours with information that bulldozers were working in the Tel Zorob area, the western-most refugee camp next to the Egyptian border. We were actually in the middle of a meeting, so within minutes all eleven of us were geared up and out the door. Five English, two Scottish, two Americans, and two Italians piled into a large taxi and headed to the scene.” Joseph Smith, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, based in Rafah, Gaza writes about the first major ISM action against bulldozers since his friend Rachel Corrie was killed on 16 March 2003. 

Rachel Corrie: Detailed eyewitness account, remembrance, and thoughts about the future

“I am deeply saddened at the loss of a good friend and a brilliant activist. I am outraged that these soldiers have murdered my friend, as they have murdered thousands of Palestinian civilians. I am terrified at what they will do to internationals and other dissenting voices in the future. I now feel how every Palestinian family must feel. I am determined to continue to resist this brutal occupation, and have learned from the courage and dedication that Rachel displayed.” Joe Smith, an ISM volunteer in Rafah who was with Rachel Corrie when she was murdered, honors her spirit, details the events leading up to her killing, and worries that Israeli impunity may triumph again.