Lora Gordon

The Monotony of Chaos

Even the incursions began to feel monotonous. The same stories. The same devastated families with nowhere to go. The same phrases to express anger and helplessness. Each story felt like a shadow of fatigue on the waves of an ocean. In the first months, my heart had broken daily and with every story, fresh catharsis bleeding onto paper, revelations in bright red. Now, eight months after my first step in Rafah, the pain is a gray weight on my stomach, always there. Laura Gordan writes from occupied Rafah. 

Eyewitness account of the invasion of Rafah

Then the streets started screaming and we were running almost without thinking, down the edges of the street around the people who had lost their fear, around donkey carts loaded full, ran until we fround a corner to turn into and then we ran past families and children, through narrow streets far enough from the main street not to know the worst, far enough that we were the ones spreading the news that the army had come back. When it left, it left not through the streets as it had come, but by creating a path through the homes still standing in Yibneh, demolishing anything in its way and driving over the remains. Laura Gordon writes from Rafah about the invasion. 

The mirror of fire and tears

Tanks cut off the main road between Rafah and Khan Younis (the city just north of Rafah) by driving ten tanks right in front of the European Gaza Hospital, the only decent hospital south of Gaza City, and the road has been closed for days. The week before this closure, Rasha spent 5 hours one day waiting for Abu Holi to open so she could go home and the next day it closed all night, leaving her to sleep at her friend’s sister’s house in Gaza City after waiting for 4 hours in a hot taxi in line with hundreds of cars waiting for the checkpoint to open. I compare our worlds, like parallel universes, squinting at each other from both sides of a mirror. Laura Gordon reports from Rafah. 

Fragments of Rafah

The shooting from the tower dominiates the night, louder than angry men, louder than demonstrators. Earlier tonight, an ambulance’s urgent wail, me holding my breath praying. Death is so close now you can smell it. Already it has come like a rain storm beginning in Hebron, like the time I watched rain come towards me from across a lake and ran toward the forest and my feet were not faster than the rain. Laura Gordon writes from Rafah. 

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.