Laila El-Haddad

Down goes the wall

Last night I received a text message from my dear friend Fida: “It’s coming down — it’s coming down!” she declared ecstatically. “Laila! The Palestinians destroyed [the] Rafah wall, all of it. All of it not part of it! Your sister, Fida.” More texts followed, as I received periodical updates on the situation in Rafah, where it was 3am. “Two hours ago people were praising God everywhere. The metal wall was cut and destroyed. So was the cement one. It is great, Laila, it is great,” she declared. Laila El-Haddad writes from the US 

Annapolis, as seen from Gaza

The Annapolis conference simply generates new and ever-more superfluous and intricate promises which Israeli leaders can commit to and yet somehow evade. An exercise in legal obfuscation at its best: we won’t build new settlements, we’ll just expropriate more land and expand to account for their “natural growth,” until they resemble towns, not colonies, and have them legitimized by a US administration looking for some way to save face. And then we’ll promise to raze outposts. Each step in the evolution of Israel’s occupation — together with the efforts to sustain it and the language to describe it — has become ever more sophisticated, strategic and euphemistic. Laila El-Haddad comments. 

The closed gates to Gaza

We had planned to leave Gaza around the beginning of June, with tickets booked out of Cairo 7 June. My parents were to come along with us for a visit. As is often the case in Gaza, things don’t always go according to plan. Rafah was open erratically during the month of May, and closed entirely the week prior to our departure. Wonderful, we thought — at least we could make our flight, if only barely. Laila El Haddad recounts barely squeezing out of Gaza early June only to have the gates to the Strip lock behind her and the thousands of other Palestinians currently stranded in Egypt. 

Al Jazeera interviews EI's Ali Abunimah

For nearly 20 years, the two-state solution has been promoted as the agreed framework for negotiations and ultimately peace to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But two decades on, it has failed to bear fruit. Co-founder of the Electronic Intifada and author of the book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, discusses his book with Al Jazeera’s Laila El-Haddad. 

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. 

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. 

Bracing for the worst: Electricity cut off, bridges bombed, sonic boom attacks resume

Friends and family in Gaza have told me they are bracing themselves for the worst, while praying for the best. In Rafah, the refugee camp that has not been spared the wrath of the Israeli Army on so many occasions in the past, where 16, 000 Palestinians lost their homes to armoured bulldozers, families have holed themselves indoors, fearing for their lives. Israel has taken control of the border area, including Rafah Crossing, and the Airport. Journalist colleagues have told me that CNN and BBC crews from Jerusalem were also not allowed through the Erez Crossing into Gaza yesterday. 

I Complain, Therefore I Am

I’m fairly certain I exist. Descartes tells me so, and before him, Ibn Sina. And when my son drags me out of bed to play with him in the pre-dawn hours, I really know I do. So you can imagine how distraught I was when my existence was cast into serious doubt by a major airline. sure enough, in the drop-down menu of countries, I found the British Indian Ocean Territory, the Isle of Man and even Tuvalu - but no Palestine. I was confused. Where in the world is Laila El-Haddad if not in Palestine, I thought? 

Just another Gaza Friday

I’ve always loved Fridays in Gaza. In the mornings, save for the lone garbage collector futilely sweeping the abandoned streets and Municipality park, littered with plastic cups, watermelon seeds, and strangled straws from the night before, the hustle and bustle of the city comes to a standstill. It is a serene if lethargic time, an escape from the sea of chaos, uncertainty and violence that grips our lives each waking day and night. For a few hours, things seem ordinary in a place where ordinary is an illusion.