Thursday, October 06, 2005

Give Me Your Tired...

What is it about kids (and veiled women) that manages to clear a row of passengers in an airplane faster than the plague? Don’t get me wrong-I didn’t mind the eye-rolling and huffs-and-puffs of agitated (and clearly childless) passengers one bit (including the snazzy Italian couple perusing through fashion magazines who snapped at Yousuf for taking their empty plastic bag)-it meant Yousuf and I got a whole row to ourselves. And despite the ceaseless wailing of the children in front of us (to the mother’s vain attempts to read “Barny Goes to the Zoo” 20 different ways), Yousuf was an angel-I guess compared to Rafah Crossing, this was a 5-star hotel.

In case it’s not clear already, my family and I have safely made it to the United States to visit my husband and brothers. It’s taken me nearly a week to recover from the hellish journey across Rafah Crossing (which is still closed off, sealing in 1.4 million Palestinian in Gaza), bombs-dropping behind us and F-16s swooping down into Gaza’s skyline (which managed to shatter our living room windows, along with several nearby schools').

I still can’t believe we made it across, I keep having nightmares that I am stuck in the crossing with Yousuf, sitting on the floor with thousands of others, being told I can’t get across.

While in transit in London’s Hethrow airport, our flight coincided with a flight headed to Tel Aviv. The bus that transported us from one terminal to another was full of holiday-happy Israelis, chatting nonchalantly in a Hebrew that I half-understood, arms laden with shopping bags from London boutiques.

I wondered if they had ever met a Palestinian; if they had the slightest idea what I had to go through to get here; how it felt to cross Rafah with a 18 month old child; or if they did, but simply preferred to screen out that ugly reality for which their country is responsible from their lives. That is what Gaza is about after all. Out of sight. Out of mind. In less than a few hours they would be back to their homes, flying carefree to the same area of land from which it had taken me weeks in waiting to begin to travel across; 24 hours to cross, several more days to re-book my flight; and another week to recover. That is the daily irony of our existence.

For now, I am just trying to enjoy my time here, to observe Ramadan; to recover; to take in the past few months. Every now and then I hear a helicopter, innocuously monitoring traffic, and I duck for cover. I am still jittery and on edge. The jagged transition from battered Gaza to picture-perfect suburbia, USA is mentally tasking.

35 Comments:

Anonymous zi said...

Why did hamas kidnap and murder a 55 year old candy store owner, Sasson Nuriel?

11:14 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Why don't you ask Hamas that. What do I look like, their spokesperson?

11:45 PM  
Anonymous zi said...

I think, as a journalist, you should 'get to he bottom of this' and find out why your beloved activists murdered a 55 year old candy store owner.

I think the world would like to know this information.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to the USA, Laila and Yousuf. I have been watching your difficult travels and am glad you made it here safely. I'm praying that you get rested, lose the jitters and have an enjoyable visit with your husband and daddy.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but my sympathy is reserved for those who REALLY deserve it- like those poor innocent people MURDERED by terrorists. Palestinian terrorists. Palestinian terrorists who thank God are usually filtered out of Israel by the walls and border crossings.

8:33 AM  
Blogger tafka PP said...

I've had some very enlightening conversations with Palestinians in Airports in recent years. Sometimes I'm the first Jew/Israeli they've ever talked to.

Have a good time, Laila. Keep blogging and ignore the "Arutz-7" commenters!

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Sarah in Jerusalem said...

Re: The second anonymous-

I, for one, find it possible to feel sorry for victims of Palestinian terror, and glad that most would-be terrorists are "filtered out," while still ALSO feeling sorry for the many many innocent Palestinians, such as Laila here, whose lives are made incredibly difficult by the measures Israel has taken. The world is not always black and white, especially in our corner of it.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Hi Laila,

I am glad you have reached the USA.
By working for Radio All For Peace, not only do I work with Palestinians in complete harmony, but I have interviewed quite a few, including your good self.

One such person was Diana Butto, who I am sure you have heard of. Diana states that one reason the Rafah border crossing is closed, is the Egyptian will to keep to the 1978 peace agreement with Israel.
In it, it states, that to open up the Rafah border, it needs both Egyptian and Israeli agreement.

Funny no one ever thought of including the Palestinians in this agreement - especially the Egyptians !

I wish you and your family well over Ramadan.

Mike Brand
Producer and Presenter
Rainbow
Radio All For peace
107.2FM + www.allforpeace.org

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Lisa in Modiin said...

"Second anonymous" here again.

Thank you, "Sarah in Jerusalem"- just what Israel needs, more of its citizens moaning about the self-inflicted plight of the poor Palestinians. I wonder if it even occurs to you or Laila that her "suffering" at the Rafah Crossing is completely and totally due to the murderous acts of the Palestinian terrorists who force Israel to take such drastic measures? That if we did not have to stop the very real threat of Palestinians who would cross into Israel and kill as many of us as they could, Laila could have glided through the crossing? But instead she blames mean old Israel.

To "Purple Parrot"- I sure as hell hope you don't live in Israel. We have enough foreign enemies without adding yet another member to the ever-increasing home-grown Israel bashing corps. "Arutz 7" commentors, huh? Nice. Real nice.

Laila, you mention "the daily irony of our existence", but the only irony I see is, again, the utter inability of your people to own up to ANY responisiblity for the Palestinians' current situation. It would behoove you to think for 5 minutes about WHY Israel is forced to take such drastic measures at border crossings. Hint: it ain't because our soldiers enjoy standing in the hot sun for hours on end while abuse is hurled at them.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Abu-Issa said...

Lisa (2nd anonymous):

"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".

Israel was figuratively and literally 'bulldosed' into place despite the Palestinians who were living there. If the imigrating European Jews had chosen to become Palestinian citizens and pledged to help re-build the nation after 400 years of Turkish occupation we wouldn't be in this situation, would we?

Instead, they chose to arrogantly build an exclusive Jewish state on top of Palestine because God promised it to them.

I'm not a theologian (nor am I a real estate agent) but that 'promise' can easily be interpreted as God promising the land to people who believe in Him/Her which at the point of 'the promise' were only Jews...today, that would include Christians and Muslims, too!

6:07 PM  
Blogger lisoosh said...

I enjoy reading Lailas posts for an alternative point of view but most of all I enjoy reading the conflicting comments. Most of you are just shouting over each others heads. What a wasted opportunity.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Elliot said...

Hey Laila

You can still blog from the USA you know! They have PC's too!

:-P

Zippy

http://thecrucifixionofkate.blogspot.com/

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anne from New York City said...

I wonder where in the U.S. you are Laila? I hope you get to talk to some ordinary Americans while you are here. Really most of us are ok unlike our government...

I took a look at "Sarah in Jerusalem"s blog. I found it almost unbearably cute, like something a young teenage girl would write. It is very interesting to contrast it to your blog because I believe the two of you are around the same age, yet you seem decades older. I guess maybe the difference reflects the sort of dissociation that Israelis engage in to emotionally avoid their political realities (which you referenced) contrasting with the grim reality that Gazans have no escape from and that makes fantasies, dreams and maybe even dissociation difficult or impossible for them...

3:17 AM  
Blogger Marcy / مارسي said...

Ramadan karim. I hope that my country is hospitabile to you, though I fear it will never hold up to Phalasteen standards. If you feel like working while in the U.S. I have groups of Arab friends at Yale and Columbia who are dying to have some solid speakers of your caliber.

Salam,
Marcy

3:56 PM  
Blogger lisoosh said...

To the person who called "Sarah from Jerusalem" unbearably cute and like a teenager I'd like to take the opportunity to defend her somewhat.
I have read her blog on and off for some time and while sometimes she allows her blog to follow a more whimsical tone on other occasions she spends a great deal of time analysing her faith, its challenges and its relation to the political reality in Israel. Frequently showing profound self awareness she is not afraid to be challenged - something I find quite refreshing.
In addition to this, she is a religious Jew with a fairly large readership and she has linked to this blog and encouraged her readers to read it and to be open to another point of view.
When someone opens themselves up to differing viewpoints and encourages open dialogue, to then attack them on a personal level with a minimum of information is rude, closed minded and sadly judgmental, something that is already in overly generous supply in relation to this topic.

8:00 PM  
Blogger ontheface said...

Lisoosh, you beat me to it. Thanks for defending Sarah so eloquently; like you, I was appalled by the gratuitous rudeness of Anne's comment.

I would like to add that I know Sarah, and have had the pleasure of enjoying a lovely, long conversation with her one afternoon in a Tel Aviv cafe. Our lifestyles are very different: Sarah is Orthodox and I am secular; Sarah lives in Jerusalem and can't imagine living in Tel Aviv; I live in Tel Aviv and can't stand to be in Jerusalem for more than half a day; and many of our friends (hers and mine, that is) tend to have opposing political opinions. And yet, we like and respect each other immensely -because we believe in tolerance and humanism. Those values override superficial differences like style of dress and religious observance.

I also think (or hope) that if Anne had read a bit further back in Sarah's blog archives, she would have arrived at a different opinion. The posts listed below are jsut a small sampling of Sarah's thoughtful and intelligent writing:

http://chayyeisarah.blogspot.com/2005/08/random-disengagement-thoughts-ii-1.html

http://chayyeisarah.blogspot.com/2005/08/blessed-be-children-tough-questions.html

http://chayyeisarah.blogspot.com/2005/07/what-color-is-my-bracelet-for-those.html

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is two cents from one of the Israelis who has been injured by one of the Palestineans who managed to sneak past the border controls....

Laila, there are bad people in the West Bank and Aza. Maybe you don't know any of them. Maybe you were unaware that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other fine charitable organizations would actually try to sneak bombs and suicide bombers over to Israel. Maybe you did not hear about the Palestinean woman who had been receiving treatment for burn wounds at Soroka Hospital in BeerSheva...until she was caught trying to smuggle over an explosive belt so she could blow up the doctors who helped her. Maybe you did not hear about the prices of weapons plummeting after the Rafah border was opened. All these folks who were dependent on the smuggling tunnels for their weaponry could just go out and bring them over above-ground. Interesting...I don't believe that you mentioned this when you wrote about the Rafah crossing being opened--you just talked about family reunions. You do know the tunnels I am talking about, right? The ones that the mean Israelis kept blowing up. Because the Palestinean terrorists were using them to smuggle in weapons? I mean, it does seem strange that a journalist would miss out on all of this information, but hey, maybe you are a really lax journalist.

We, for our part, are aware, and do take steps to try to prevent the damage and destruction that the terrorists would otherwise inflict. Unlike you, we realize how much pain and suffering even one bomb can cause. I was seriously injured in one of those bombings; many other people were killed. You may not realize what one of these are like, but don't worry. I have no doubt that sooner or later, Hamas, the PA and the various other groups will get tired of those oh-so-inefficient gun battles and will just cut to the chase and start sending out suicide bombers against each other and you too will have the opportunity to see what we Israelis have been trying to prevent for all this time. Maybe you should try to interview some of those who were injured at the Hamas rally a couple weeks back.

I should point out that I am in favor of the disengagement, and in favor of a pullout of the West Bank. I am in favor of a negotiated settlement (but if that is not possible, then a unilateral pullout). I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, part of the Arutz Sheva crowd. Do I believe that abuses took place? Yes. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" is as true as it ever was. But do I believe that we should pull out our soldiers and citizens AND allow free, unchecked travel across the borders? No. So long as the Palestinean Authority or Palestineans, such as yourself, refuse to condemn the terror, or even to acknowledge it as such, how can we? If it were your life, and the life of your son at risk, would you open the borders?

Look at it from the other point of view. If you had control over the borders, would you allow me, an Israeli, free access? Or would you want to check me first--guns? weapons? What am I trying to smuggle? Do you have cause to distrust and dislike me, and Israelis in general? Sure, no question. But that goes two ways.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would add that Anne of New York's analysis of how Israelis cope with their reality is as arrogant and off target as her description of Sarah and her chayyeisarah blog.
Fay

1:13 AM  
Blogger tafka PP said...

"Lisa in Modiin" - of course I live here. Not sure if you do, judging by your hopelessly out-of-touch comment. FYI it has been proven time and time again by polls that most people who live in Israel have views far closer to mine than yours vis a vis Palestinians and Peace. You would do well to accept that instead of aiming unpleasant swipes.

8:24 AM  
Blogger With Love said...

Sadly, many of the comments to this post only confirm what I wrote in my own comment to the last post: so many people on both sides of this conflict can see only their own pain. And each can go back to some historical justice or injustice and "prove" that the other side started it, that if only "they" had acted in such and such a way, or if only "they" would not behave in such and such a way, "they" would not be suffering. When will most people on each side give up fantasies of the absolute justice of their own cause, and look at what their own people has done to perpetuate the suffering? That is the only way we are ever going to be able to progress toward a peaceful resolution of this conflict, or at least a modus vivendi that will allow both peoples to go about building their own societies without constant fear of the other.

Sara

8:26 AM  
Anonymous scholar said...

Some commenters appear to me to be nuts. Nobody claims that Israelis = Kach, Jewish denfense league and so on. It's not understandable that they attack Laila because there are groups like Hamas, Jihad Islami and so on.

And because of the filtering on borders, dream on. If I can walk in and out where I want in the westbank, the real terrorists can do it to for sure.

Why are people judging on somebody because of passport ? Stupid.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Abu Sinan said...

Glad to hear you made it safe.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Hala said...

Laila-
You write with eloquence and grace, and we are lucky to have you make your voice heard and take us one step closer to actually being able to view the reality of the situation. No matter how we search for news it is always personal accounts that help draw a picture of the truth.

8:08 PM  
Blogger 劉忠軍 said...

Subject: Daud Kuttab on the Palestinian image conference.

The Editor
Sir,

A little bit of objectivity and self criticism for which the Palestinians
are not renowned would not hurt.
The world is sick and tired of the Palestinian culture of self pity and
victimhood and the continued pattern of blaming others for their own
failures.
This is how we see you:
Terrorism and anarchy are the hallmarks of the Palestinians compounded by
endemic visceral corruption, and total impunity. Where are the billions
squandered by Arafat, by Suha Arafat leading the high life in Paris, by
Mohammed Rashid and others. Where do the Mercedeses come from?
The methodical violation of any agreement signed with the Palestinians be it
by Americans, Europeans or Israelis ( Oslo and the subsequent agreements for
one). The deceit, trickery, hollow promises, equivocations etc, make us come
to the conclusion, that these people have no word nor honour.
Did you bring to justice the murderers of 3 Americans in Gaza as promised?
We in Europe pay almost 50% in taxes -you pay none, and you squander our
hard earned money.

The Palestinians have proportionately received more aid money than
practically any other people certainly more than the majority of
impoverished countries in Africa, and always for the same purpose: to help
them build a government. Where has all the money gone? Can the Europeans
think of no world cause worthier than helping corrupt individuals in the PA
become richer? The poor of Mexico, Africa, Brazil and Central America, India
and China?

There were no grants announced to the Tibetans, who have been brutally
occupied for a very long time. But the Tibetans have not resorted to
terrorism. The primary cause of terrorism is not occupation, assimilation or
desperation. If it was, the Tibetans would be the greatest terrorists..
Terrorism will continue as long as potential terrorists believe they will
benefit fromusing that tactic Europe must decide: Does it want to help
President Bush in his efforts to create regime change, or help perpetuate
Palestinian corruption?

We in Europe, removed our rose-tinted glasses at the time of a suicide
bombing outside a beachfront Tel Aviv disco . Twenty two teenagers were
killed and many more seriously injured in that attack by a Palestinian
terrorist. This was not the first such attack. Innocent civilians were
similarly blown to pieces in Jerusalem, and other Israeli cities.
Palestinians were walking into peoples homes and killing little children in
their beds, shooting women and babies in their cars, murdering grandmothers
and kids in ice cream parlours.
The glee that greets those brutal deeds of terror, the cult that rises
around the martyrs and their families puts you all beyond the pale of
civilized society.
We still I dreamed of a different world. Maybe the Israelis were wrong. Then
the bombers and gunmen reached Netanya, which had experienced fourteen
terror attacks, including three suicide bombings, that killed fifty and
injured more than 400. The pinnacle of this onslaught was the Passover
Massacre that took place in the Park Hotel. A Palestinian, who had once
worked in this hotel, walked into the banqueting hall and blew up over
thirty people, some of them survivors of the Holocaust.
We began to ask ourselves: Why was this happening when the world and Israel
were offering the Palestinians a state of their own, a two state solution, a
Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel?
Surely, this is what you were demanding? The Palestinians love the arsonist
s work, it is a skill they perfected in Jordan and Lebanon years ago ( and
do it again, now, in Lebanon), an attitude Arafat brought with him to Israel
and the Palestinian territories when the Israelis plucked him from
bankruptcy and disgrace back in 1993 and granted undeserved respectability.
The first intifada of December 1987 had been an eruption on the land. He had
been in Tunisia then, written off as a figure of the past and of exile. This
second war was his own: He claimed it. And through all the terrible deeds
Arafat built, right alongside Israel, a fairly bloody instrument of war
aimed for Israel's soul, to wear it down.
He was never up for a permanent solution of the conflict if that solution
did not inevitably lead to the eradication of the Jewish state.
Everything in his upbringing, everything in his political philosophy
everything in his rhetoric to his people was forged in the destruction of
the Jewish state. Arafat, exhorting his people to Jihad and martyrdom was
straight out of the Islamic lexicon used by Islamists now. The call for a
Palestinian state 'from the River to the Sea' was one example of the
ultimate aim of the Palestinian cause. This is true to this day. The
Palestinian Charter still insists on The complete liberation of Palestine
and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural
existence.
Translation of Palestinian statements in Arabic over PA radio and TV as well
as the sermons of PA paid clerics, are readily available in Europe. You
cannot continue your favourite game of saying one thing in Arabic and
another in English. The mask is torn of your face. You better know it.
The Fatah call for the eradication of Zionist existence and the demolition
of the state of Israel is nothing short of a call for genocide against the
Jews. In this, Fatah shares the same ambitions as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
When this obsession for destroying Israelis personified by over 30 thousand
separate terror attacks within a five year period, one has to question a
society, that is driven by such a death cult . We still harbour a silent
pray that reason, light, and courage will be sparked among a pragmatic
Palestinian leadership that will stand up against the dark and radical
forces that control the streets, the hearts and the minds of the Arab world.


All the nations of the world should stop rewarding any regime that supports
or promotes terrorism, and that includes the PA. The PA must be made to
understand that there are consequences to enacting policies that promote
radical Islamic terrorism.




Yours Sincerely,
Thierry Onfray
65 Boulevard Lannes
Paris 75116

7:36 PM  
Blogger 劉忠軍 said...

Gazans now get their first chance ever, not just in the last 38 years, at true self-governance. Will they use it to build a peaceful and prosperous land alongside Israel, or as a launching pad to intensify violence and terror against Israel? Let us hope they choose wisely.

Had Abu Mazen shown half the resolve, and courage of Ariel Sharon in dismantling the Gaza and West bank hooded armed gangs and their bomb factories there would be peace by now.

Post-occupation Gaza will become a Mediterranean Somalia: an unstable failed state in which gangs compete for power and extremist Islam finds a sanctuary.

Let the foreign ministries of Europe now panic about this triumph of Islamism on Mediterranean shores. Let the Egyptians now panic, as Israel removes the watch that protected Egypt as well as Israel from Islamist insurgency. Let Egypt and Jordan be compelled to send their own troops, respectively, into Gaza, and soon the West Bank. Let them take over Israel’s thankless task -- or suffer the consequences of it not being done.
For that matter, let the international community of professional apologists for Palestinian terrorism now drop their pretensions, and let the world know that what the Palestinians actually demand is the annihilation of Israel.
Through his inaction, Mr. Abbas has permitted Hamas to become the most powerful political movement in Gaza. Judging from the Nuremberg-like rallies that group has been staging in the streets of Gaza, Hamas sounds like it intends to plunge the Palestinians into another war against Israel.
Hamas Leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar ["Israeli" towns are "settlements"] the interview appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat on August 18, 2005 :
... "Our plan is not to liberate the Gaza Strip, nor is it to liberate the West Bank or to liberate Jerusalem. Our plan in the first stage is to liberate the lands occupied in 1967. Those who view it as a strategic solution and those who view it as an interim solution have agreed upon this plan. Therefore, we will not take over the Gaza Strip and live there peacefully while the Zionist enemy is detaining thousands of our sons and occupying the West Bank. The resistance must move to the West Bank to expel the occupation."

.....Our Position Stems from Our Religious Convictions

Q: "You talk about attacks on the Palestinian territories as if you
recognize the existence of Israel."

A: "I strongly disagree with your statement. We do not and will not
recognize a state called Israel. Israel has no right to any inch of
Palestinian land. This is an important issue. Our position stems from our religious convictions.
Why exactly are the Palestinians supposed to be entitled to sympathy? For rejecting the original partition of Western Palestine? For participating in the 1947-49 Arab war of aggression in which the Arab ditctatorships attempted to annihlate the Jews of Israel? For collaborating with Hitler in World War II? The Communist bloc in the Cold War? And why should Palestinians, who already have 22 Arab states to which they may move (if their Arab brothers would let them) including Jordan which is 70% Palestinian complain? The Arab world drenched in oil, controlling a land mass nearly twice the size of the United States could lift the Palestinians (not to mention their own people) into the 20th Century if they had the will to devote themselves positive agendas, instead of to a genocidal war agianst Israel. Why should THEY deserve any sympathy for a plight that is entirely caused by their own persistnent barbarism?



Thierry

7:51 PM  
Blogger 劉忠軍 said...

Ignorance of history of Gaza


Gaza history

1917
Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled throughout the Middle
East, Great Britain receives a mandate from the League of Nations to govern
Mandatory Palestine, which includes the area of Gaza City and its
surroundings.


1949
Following the signing of the armistice, the Gaza
area comes under Egyptian military rule. Egypt
proclaims the Strip held in trust for the Palestinians.
The residents of Gaza are not given Egyptian citizenship.
1956
During the Suez Campaign, the Gaza Strip is occupied by Israel. In March
1957, under international pressure, Israel withdraws its troops and the area
is back in Egyptian hands.

1967
Israel captures the Gaza Strip during the Six Day War. The United Nations
Security Council passes Resolution 242, calling for the withdrawal of
Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the war in exchange for an
end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

1970
Kfar Darom - a Jewish community in the Strip evacuated in 1948 - is
re-established as a para-military Nahal outpost.


1978
Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David Accords; pledge to attempt to reach an
agreement on Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.During the
Camp David negotiations.

1987
Anwar Saadat refuses to take control of Gaza, conquered from Egypt, First
intifada breaks out in Gaza City. Violent clashes between the IDF and
Palestinians occur daily. Military curfew is placed on most of the
Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas founded in Gaza.


1994
The Gaza-Jericho Agreement is signed in Cairo, including an agreement to
withdraw Israeli military forces from Gaza and Jericho, and transfer
authority from the Israeli Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority
A Palestinian security force is created to ensure the peace. The
Palestinian Authority assumes administrative control of the Strip. IDF
forces leave most of the Strip's Palestinian inhabited areas. Israel
maintains control of the settlements, borders, and other strategic points.

2000
Camp David Summit fails; second intifada erupts.

2005

Disengagement carried out.

The Facts

The Palestinians didn't 'return' to the Gaza settlements -- there was nothing there before Jewish settlements sprung up in the barren desert in
the '70s and '80s. The land of Gush Katif was known as 'cursed ground' by local Arabs, who were convinced nothing could grow in that arid and mineral-poor region.
The status of the settlements is properly defined as disputed --
Now that the Israelis have left Gaza and everybody is happy, here's a Peace In Our Time update: "Hamas Bombmaker Vows to Continue Attacks," from AP:

A shadowy Hamas bombmaker who tops Israel's most-wanted list on Saturday issued his first videotaped statement since going into hiding more than a decade ago.

Mohammed Deif praised Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a victory for armed resistance, rejected calls for his group to disarm, and vowed to continue attacks on Israel until the Jewish state is erased from the map.
This is the reality in Gaza and it spells disaster!

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) -- In a military training camp run by the ruling
Fatah movement, hundreds of young Palestinians marched in formation Monday
and sprinted across a sandy lot.

Nearby, hundreds of Islamic Jihad gunmen in black ski masks paraded in the
streets, some riding in jeeps, raising AK-47 assault rifles and posing with
rocket launchers.

Yet a third militant group, Hamas, boasted on its Web site that it has
killed more Israelis in more Gaza attacks than any of its rivals -- and that
it alone deserves credit for Israel's historic pullout from the
Mediterranean strip.

Competition among armed Palestinian groups over control of Gaza's lawless
towns intensified Monday as Israeli settlers cleared out the last of 21
Jewish settlements.

The jostling for position has raised tensions as well as concerns about
armed conflict.

"This huge military presence among people in Gaza will lead to more chaos,
will weaken the Palestinian Authority and will create more violence in
society," said Talal Okal, a political analyst in Gaza. "Fatah is losing
control and Hamas is rising up."

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wants to see carefully orchestrated victory
marches under the Palestinian national flag. However, Hamas, Islamic Jihad
and a few tiny Palestinian Liberation Organization factions have ignored his
appeals, already parading their gunmen in a show of force and planning
parades once the last Israeli soldiers leave in the coming weeks.

On Monday, Islamic Jihad and Hamas members in uniforms staged marches in
Rafah in southern Gaza and in Nablus in the West Bank, burning cardboard
models of Israeli settlements and tanks as crowds cheered.

About 10,000 people attended the Hamas rally in Gaza City, where the group
played film clips of it building rockets and digging tunnels under Israeli
army posts. Over loudspeakers, the group played a song in Hebrew, with the
words, "Hamas, Hamas, Hamas, our goal is the head of Sharon," referring to
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

A Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said the group deserves a share of power,
and there cannot be just one decision-maker.

Abbas cannot compete with such popular displays, since he has advocated
nonviolence and hopes to negotiate a peace deal with Israel. However, in
recent speeches he has increasingly alluded to violence as a means of
driving Israel out.

"Today we are getting part of the payoff, of your sacrifice, by seeing the
last settlers leaving Gaza," Abbas told hundreds of disabled Palestinians,
many wounded in the fighting. "The credit for the evacuation is for you and
for the martyrs who sacrificed themselves and gave their lives for the
homeland."

However, it appeared his Fatah party did not want to hold back.

In southern Gaza, near what was once the Gush Katif bloc of Israeli
settlements, members of Fatah's military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigades, have organized three military training camps for more than 3,000
activists.

The goal is twofold, organizers said: to recruit large numbers to swell the
ranks in Fatah victory marches and to be ready for possible street battles
with Hamas.

One training camp was set up in Rafah in a dusty lot about the size of two
football fields. Some 700 young men, both Al Aqsa veterans and unemployed
with time on their hands, marched in formation, crawled through the sand and
did sprints, as trainers in camouflage uniforms barked orders through
bullhorns.

Graduates will be members of the "Army of Victory and Liberation," said the
head coach, who identified himself only by his nom-de-guerre, Abu Nimr.

"It is our duty as the Fatah movement to make sure that we have the biggest
celebrations," said another organizer, Mohammed Al Bouji. "We are getting
them together so if there is trouble, our boys will be ready."

Asked what kind of trouble, he said: "You know, trouble with Hamas."

Al Bouji said he and his campers were ready to help Palestinian security
forces assert control over the territories and settlement assets Israel
leaves behind. Israel is demolishing settlers' homes but leaving greenhouses
intact. Abbas declared over the weekend that all settlement real estate
would fall under government control.

"If they (Hamas) lay their hands on even one settlement, be sure we will
take over 10," said Yasser Khatib, head of Al Aqsa in southern Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority distanced itself from the training camps.

"There is no Fatah army, no popular army," said Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a
Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman. "We want to get rid of the military
images. After the withdrawal, there is one authority and that's it."

However, the Al Aqsa men said they were getting Fatah funding for the camps,
and Palestinian security officials sat in on one of Monday's interviews with
camp organizers.

In organizing a small private army, Fatah gunmen in southern Gaza also
appeared to be sending a warning to the Palestinian Authority that they
could make trouble if jobs are not found for them in the security forces.
Many gunmen believe they are entitled to government posts, saying they made
personal sacrifices in fighting Israel.

However, Finance Minister Salam Fayyad has imposed a hiring freeze in the
security forces under intense pressure from the international donor
community, which is partially bankrolling the Palestinian Authority and has
complained about a bloated public payroll.

Former Palestinian Cabinet minister Ziad Abu Amr, a mediator between Hamas
and the Palestinian Authority, said the Palestinians have so far handled
themselves well during the Israeli pullout, but he was increasingly worried
about the growing competition between militants.

Hamas believes it has an edge over its rivals, citing Israeli military
statistics to claim it carried out 54 percent of 400 attacks in Gaza during
the past five years.

The statistics, published Monday, "are a document of Hamas' struggle and
Hamas' role in liberating this precious part of the homeland," spokesman
Sami Abu Zuhri said.

"It made this victory (the Gaza withdrawal) possible, and this victory can
be repeated."




Yours Sincerely,
Thierry

8:04 PM  
Blogger 劉忠軍 said...

So now you are in America, the country you Moslems hate and despise- but want to emigrate there. I still remember the glee in Gaza after 9/11 the sermons in the mosques. I also remember 3 Americans murdered in Gaza.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY OFFICIAL ADMITS HE KNOWS WHO
MURDERED THREE AMERICANS IN GAZA - BUT WON'T ARREST THEM
A senior Palestinian Authority official has for the first
time publicly acknowledged that the PA knows the identity of the terrorists who murdered three Americans in Gaza last year - but he says the PA will not
arrest them.

Musa Arafat, the head of PA Military Intelligence and a cousin of PA chairman Yasir Arafat, told Reuters (Sept.22, 2004) that "Palestinian
security forces know who was behind the killing of three Americans in Gaza
nearly a year ago but cannot act against the factions while fighting with
Israel continues."

The three murdered Americans were John Branchizio, 37, of Texas, John
Linde Jr., 30, of Missouri, and Mark Parsons, 31, of New Jersey. They were security personnel guarding a convoy of U.S. diplomatic vehicles that was
attacked by Palestinian Arab terrorists at the Beit Hanoun junction in the Gaza Strip on October 15, 2003.

I wonder why this game is allowed to go on without the U.S. punishing the deceitful and murderous Arafat gang.

Have a pleasant stay in the U.S.

8:38 PM  
Blogger 劉忠軍 said...

So suddenly there were F 16 How conveniently you forget the 40 Qassam missiles fired by your compatriots into a peaceful Israeli town Sderot,injuring 6 and preventing children from going to schhol. They could have pulverised you, but unlike your compatriots they are not interested in wanton murder. What did hou want them to do rain sweets on you for lobbing sahells into their cities? "School" this is what you call a Hamas base?
Continue propagating your half truths.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous scholar said...

Mr Thierry, you make the same mistake as many others. Do I blame you personaly for the mistakes of Mao Zedong ? For the army intervention on Tienamen Square - for everything that was good or bad in China during recent times ? According to your twisted logics I should do it. But I don't because I give a dam about what you are even thinking of it. This blog is about raising yousuf and not about hamas or firing rockets (and already the title suggests that Laila isn't a big supporter of hamas). If you are not able to get even this I realy see a problem. Vous avez compris ou vous n'avez meme pas encore esayer de comprendre ???? Merci bien...

11:41 AM  
Blogger Imaan said...

Dear Layla,
I really like your response to all this - silence. Miss you in Gaza!
//Imaan the swedish blogger

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Mordechai said...

Thiery, your Chinese surname is apt: Slaughter.

Perhaps instead of haranguing on Layla's page, you should open your own shop.

A barrage of criticism (irrespective of whether it is deserved or not, accurate or biased) does not contribute to dialogue.

Please, engage. If you can only vent, step aside. There are many other places where you will be welcome.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Andrew Schamess said...

What a gentle and evocative post, Laila. It looks like you hit a nerve, though.

It seems to me that the Palestinians are not exactly "out of sight, out of mind" for Israelis. Rather, you dwell in the mind in a place of fear that most Israelis would rather avoid - must avoid, in fact, if they are to live without paralysis and without questioning their own deeply-held beliefs.

There is a rational fear of irrational acts. Tomorrow I could be driking coffee with a friend, and without warning the car parked in front of the cafe will explode... This is scary. I hate the person who could do this to me.

And there is an intense resistance to facing the reasons behind those acts, a desire that they be irrational. Rather than negotiate this diffficult territory, we choose to disengage.

I think the Palestinians of Gaza have lived with the same mortal fear - of jets dropping missiles, helicopters with mortars aimed at residential buildings, gunshots in school playgrounds. And also, what the Israelis do not experience - the daily "inconveniences" that are really reminders of powerlessness, of subjegation.

We love to assert that the Palestinians have brought their suffering on themselves. It absolves us, after all. We forget that the same argument applies both ways: had we not wanted to escape the humiliations of gentile Europe, had we not dreamed of possessing the land, had we accepted the borders drawn for us by the U.N., or the Armistice line... Did we want anything different than what the Palestinians want? Is our violence against the Palestinians so different from theirs against us?

The Israelis in the airport, I think, know you exist. They just don't want to face you. Perhaps they prefer the "Palestinian" they have created. Certainly some of the commenters above are at pains to try to drown out your voice with their own descriptions of bloodthirsty, implacable Jew-hating Arabs. For this Palestinian, there can be no sympathy, no commonality.

Your writing wounds because it's about the mundane. You don't offer a polemic in defense of Hamas, a cover-up of Arab crimes. You offer the reality of day to day life in a world that's shaped by injustice.

Danger creates fear, but sin creates hatred. When we cover our ears and holler "you're the enemy" it's our own sin we are talking to and not, I'm afraid, to you at all.

7:51 PM  
Blogger YS said...

Thank you for not censoring any of these comments. I can't say that I agree with much of what I just read here but it's good to see such disscussion between people who would never interact otherwise.

I am an Israeli Jew. I've sat and spoken with people on both sides, traveled in many places and am now outside of Israel. I have my own opinion but I want to keep that to myself for now. Maybe on my own blog. I just wanted to let you know that there are many Jewish blogs linking to yours. This is a mark of respect not to be taken lightly. You deserve it.

Thank you

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Yonatan said...

What you witnessed in London was simply the Israeli mentality that allows Israelis to laugh and live life to the fullest in the face of war and terror. It's the same mentality that I saw when I was shelled by Hizbollah in northern Israel and saw people making jokes about it (that we where so close that the shells would go over us, not into us). Of course Israelis have seen Palestinians and understand the suffering of civilains in a combat zone, but they have also seen the gunmen and terrorists you discribe as a daily fact of life in Gaza. And I think you, in questioning the Israelis, prove that you do not really understand the situation in Israel. You describe being kept awake at night by sonic booms. Have you ever taken a bus and looked around, wondering who might blow themselves up and take you with them?

3:58 AM  
Blogger Fatima said...

I know I'm leaving my comments much after you posted the blogs, but I just discovered your blog recently and I'm reading all your old messages, and loving them. This reminds me so much of what goes on in Iraq today, though alot more difficult for you guys. Its also difficult to travel out of Baghdad, and whenever I go back to the States, I have to readust my mind to think of fireworks on July 4th as fireworks and not bombs, and helicopters as normal helicopters and not army ones.

8:13 PM  

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