Anything but ordinary!
"This agreement is intended to give the Palestinian people freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives" said Condoleezza Rice confidently, of an agreement she helped broker with much fanfare following the now comatose Ariel Sharon's disengagement from Gaza.
Now, maybe it's just me, but six months on, I wouldn’t say my life is ”ordinary” by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I think it's quite outside the entire realm of the ordinary.
Just ask my Yousuf. He often mistakes Israeli helicopter gunships for birds, dances to the revolutionary songs blasted during political rallies marching by our house, and has learned to distinguish between Israeli tank shell fire and machine-gun banter.
When not making our own yoghurt at home due to a shortage in the market, we scavenge Gaza City to find him Size 5 Pampers because Israel has closed down the al-Mintar crossing, as it has done again this week, all while living in a disengaged-but-still-occupied-territory whose parliament must convene via videoconference.
As one Palestinian woman observing the new democratically elected Hamas-led parliament convene last week noted upon being asking about her thoughts of possible Israeli sanctions “our lives are incomprehensible”.
To add insult to injury, I along with the vast majority of Gazans, cannot even travel to the other half of my non-state-entity.
But I guess I can see how I can be considered a security threat, what with Yousuf's chili incident.
And hey, we've always got Rafah Crossing right? I mean after all, "the battle's done, and we kind of won", and to quote the flag from the Chairman Arafat Shop down the street, we now have a "Free Gaza" and of course, control of the the only outlet for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians.
Unfortunately, control over the crossing as brokered by Condoleezza after the much-lauded unilateral Disengagement, and the end of Israel's occupation of Gaza, is completely fictitious.
My own friends and family can't even visit me here in my lonely little open-air prison.
Two American peace activist friends of mine (one a Harvard colleague. Who knew they could graduate so many security threats?) were denied entry by Israel to Gaza last week via a supposedly Palestinian-controlled Rafah Crossing.
The reasons cited: "affiliations with groups that are considered terrorist
groups." Pat helped Palestinian villagers plant olive trees and non-violently resist
the encroachment of the Israeli wall on their land in the West Bank last
year. He was coming to Gaza to volunteer with a local agricultural NGO.
Two days earlier, two French aid workers coming to set up a sister city project in Beit Hanun were likewise denied, for the same blanket reason. And the examples go on.
All this is leaving the case of my own husband aside, who, along with 50, 000 other Palestinians, because he lacks an Israeli-issued ID card and family-reunion permit, and is a refugee, cannot visit me in Gaza, except perhaps under extenuating circumstances that may render him "a humanitarian case", according to officials I spoke to. Even then, there is always the chance that he may be denied based on "security reasons"-after all, his son handled a chemical weapon.
Ordinary? Hardly, Ms. Rice.
As one Palestinian official put it to me, "it's all a grand illusion, and anyone who says or believes otherwise-from Abu Mazen down, is lying."