Wednesday, December 27, 2006

You know its Eid when....

You know its Eid when...

...the streets fill with candy!

The toy shops run out of plastic guns...hehe Ok i'm kidding.

-You find decapitated cow-heads lying in the streets of the souk

-Fskeekh begins to rear its ugly head (aka...really, really, really stinky, salted fish)

and on and on.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

pictures of Yousuf

I figure its time for an update on Yousuf by way of some pictures. so here you go..

Yousuf taking a look at a hawk, who stares back intently, at my uncle's place.

Yousuf insisted I take a photo of his teddy bear (aka "dabdoob") before I take one of him.

Getting ready to go to nursery, with Seedo's hat

a tense calm, but who's to blame?

There is a tense calm holding in Gaza. But tense or not, people couldn't care less, so long as they feel safe walking the streets now.

Over the past week, street battles were waged with automatic weapons, rocket propelled grenades and even mortars between members supportive of both factions, and often, plainclothes residents with a score to settle, like the Dogmosh family, leaving most residents holed inside their homes or fleeing for safety. Even making it to the corner convenience store became a challenge.

Universities cancelled their classes and most stores closed shop. Many parents even stopped sending their children to school.

But almost overnight, all this changed, as members of the Hamas Executive Force and Abbas's countless security forces that were previously deployed throughout the city were withdrawn.

The question most people on the outside keep asking is: who is fighting whom and why? Its a question who's answer even locals are unsure of. Often the "cards" as it were, are mixed, and those actually doing the fighting are embedded in gang/mafia/clan warfare, with members operating under factional cover, as with the most recent spate of violence.

And in the absence of rule of law, sovereignty, security, and most importantly, authority, it devolves into a cycle of revenge that is characterized as "factional".

But there is also another element to all this. With the enthusiastic help of the CIA, Abbas has recruited, equipped, and trained a new presidential force expected to number 3000 men, whose salaries are paid in full.

And this week, Congress is expected to pass a bill sanctioning $US90 million in "special" aid to the presidential guard.

Blair went a step further, suggesting that the Palestinian tax revenues now being held by Israel (amounting to $52 million monthly) should be routed to Abbas. He then naively (or intentionally...) said that "care should be taken to ensure that the money went only to legitimate security forces and not militias".

The reason I say naive is bgecause more often than not, as anyone here will tell you, these forces are one and the same.

Again, none of this surprises me. We are a failed state, before we can even became a state. Can anything else be expected given the severe conditions under which the society has been placed? The first time in history, according to teh UN,that an occupied people have been subject to sanctions, especially sanctions of this rigor and magnitude? THe answer may seem obvious to some, but I am always surprised there is not MORE internal fighting given the situation. I guess at the very least, we have that to be thankful for.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The streets of Gaza

Things are grim here in Gaza City. During the day, few shops opt to stay open anymore, and at night, the city is transformed into a ghost town. And then the shooting begins. Tonight, in addition to the usual machine gun banter, we also heard a large unexplained explosion-it appears a mortar attack in northern Gaza near the Mukhabarat (Intelligence) building.

Yesterday, a Fateh-linked security officer was kidnapped and killed, and clashes ensued in front of Ministry of Foreign Affairs after unknown assailants fired on the convoy of Mahmud Zahar; Later, Fateh gunmen took over the Ministries of Agriculture and Educationin what Zahar has described as an attempted military coup; and in the north of the Gaza Strip, Jabaliya, clashes continued today despite a tenuous "ceasefire" (people are now trying to keep track of which ceasefire is which).

Every hour, new blood is spilled, and every hour, we here new condemnations and regret at the fact that brethren are doing this to each other. How does a society actually slip into civil war? is it gradual or abrupt? When is that red line finally crossed, the point of no return, when all precedents are broken, and wrong can suddenly be right?

And why are we in the media so anxious to call this a civil war, almost as we want to will into existance, while the civil war in Iraq has been raging for years, and no one knows how to characterize it yet.

Today, we saw members of the presidential guard, who were deployed last night, cautionally manning every corner of Gaza City. They were stopping cars on main streets in Gaza City, asking us to turn on our lights inside our cars as we drove (perhaps so as to avoid becoming an intinended target?). For a change, we actually felt a little safe, though also a little more vulnerable.

I can't help but think of Amira Hass's article of this past summer. Her words reverberate over and over again in my mind.

The experiment was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other. They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called "what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens.

The average person don't know what to think anymore. They are confused and and exhausted and mostly very, very afraid.

As a friend of my mother put it today, "We don’t’ know anymore who's right and who’s wrong, and who’s at fault and who isn’t. And we just want it to end."

Saturday, December 16, 2006


In a fiery and lengthy speech broadcast nationwide that was at sharp contrast with Haniya's more conciatory talk last night, Mahmud Abbas has called for unspecificed early presidential and parliamentary elections in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

Abbas spoke for more than 1 1/2 hours, hurling verbal insult after insult at Hamas and at unnamed figures abroad "who dont' dirty their feet on our soil", a jab at Khaled Meshal.

But througout the speech, it was not clear that Abbas would come outright and call for new elections. He merely stated in the beginning that it was his legitimate right to do. The whammy of the an announcement came as the final sentence of his speech, to which those in attendence jumped to their feet amdist thunderous applause. Outisde, Fateh supporters shot gunfire in celebration and honked their horns.

Abbas began by explaining the reasons why he believes a unity government has not been formed and why he said in a press conference with Sec. of State Rice that the road to national dialogue has been closed.

Abbas went on to talk about how the firing of rockets has hindered foreign investments in Gaza, saying "there were high hopes that the land freed of settlements would flourish with investements, but because we insist on firing rockets this has not happened".

"They continue to fire them till this very second, despite first and second and third truces."

The ironic thing is, Abbas's talk was riddled with contradictions. He condemns the actions (firing rockets, attacks against Israel) of the very people he later praises as heros languishing in Israeli jails-Marwan Barghouthi and Ahmed Saadat and their likes. He also made no mention of the fact that the ones who continue to fire rockets are his own al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Abbas went on to accuse the government of prolonging the siege, and blamed the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for the death of some 500 Palestinians and injurey of more than 5000 at the hands of the Israeli Army since this summer.

He also categorically denied any "conspiracy" to assasinate Ismail Haniya, saying the very people Hamas accuses of being "conspirtors" are the ones who helped facilitate his his arrival and departure.

Abbas criticized the throngs of Hamas supporters who welcomed Haniya "with machine guns and RPGs, instead of bouquets of roses".

He said the Rafah Crossing was operating smoothly, "and people could get through within minutes" and it was the Hamas supporters who destroyed it two days ago. OK-I don't know what crossing Abbas has been using, but the one I just crossed over DID NOT TAKE a few minutes, and it certaintly was not under Palestinian control, and never has been.

The interesting thing, Abbas focussed his energy on attacking and tearing apart Hamas and its government, blaming them for everything from the state of siege and hunger we are in, to the death of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli attacks this summer, to the closure of the Rafah Crossing. He ignored completely the fact that Gaza's imprisonment and isolation began LONG before Hamas was elected into power, something verified by the UN's OCHA Itself.

In a verbal jab against Meshal, Abbas said “he who talks about the illegitimacy of the executive power of the PLO is the very one who is protected by it in the outside. He talks from afar, in comfort, without dirtiing his shoes in the soil of our land.”

Many people consider the PLO an aging, defunct body that need to be either dissolved or reformed, including independents like Mustpha Barghouthi. So I don't really see Hamas's objections as entirely outrageous.

Abbas went on to talk about what he called the contradictions in Hamas's positions, and view about him.

"How can we have winter and summer under one sun? I don’t’ understand. Once hour I am a hero, another hour spy? Come on, we all know it takes longer than one hour to become a spy."

“It’s my right to dissolve the government, and I can do it whenever I please. Hamas does no scare us when they say it’s a precursor for a civil war. It’s my constitutional right" Abbas said early on.

The other interesting thing is that it seems Abbas, or Abu Mazen, has assumed the role that he once condemned in Arafat: the entire reason the role of Prime Minister was created in the first place early 2000 (at the prodding of the US) was to serve as a counter-balance to the absolute authority of Arafat. Abu Mazen served as Prime Minister for a while before resigning in protest because he felt he could not properly carry out his job and the President continued to exercise ultimate authority. Interesting how the tide turns...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Gazans speak out on early elections

Tension was palpable in the air today in Gaza, as Hamas's executive forces deployed alongside the presidential guard, hours after an attempt on Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's life. Luckily, the tension has so far not spilled over into violence in Gaza, as in the West Bank, and both forces shown admirable restraint.

Haniya proceeded to give his speech, which many people I spoke with viewed as "re-assuring" given the volatile climate of recent days and weeks. Still, many question marks remain: how will the money he was able to raise make its way into Gaza? Is a unity government still realistic? What is the alternative?

Tommorow Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to give a nationwide talk, in which he will hint-but not overly call for-early elections as an option, something that Hamas, and even Fateh's Qaddoumi, reject. It is a suggestion that the PLO Executive Council recommended last week, however.

Al-Quds al-Arabi editor, and prominent palestinian journalist Abdelbarry Utwan, who was hosted by phone with me last week on Gaza's "Nightdrive" english radio program, believes for his part that a call for early elections is a call for civil war "and we all know who is behind that".

He said it would be a grave mistake for Abbas to call for early elections, and compared Gaza to Algeria of the eary '90s, while noting the contradiction of US support of the Sinora government and opposition to Hamas.

I went around and talked to people about their thoughts on early elections last week in this photostory for Aljazeera. Do bear in mind that it was written before Haniya's speech, which seems to have had a good deal of influence in people's confidence level, according to many local analysts.

Most people seem confused and uncertain, and just want a way out of the current crisis. At the same time, opinion is extremely polarized.

I've also published an oped in the International Herald Tribune echoing previous statements I've made about the criminal closure of Rafah Crossing.

Israel legalizes assasinations

Overshadowed by yesterday’s tense run-up and bloody aftermath of Prime Minister Haniya’s return to Gaza (Haniya was delayed for 8 hours by the Israelis b/c of the money he brought back with him for the Palestinian people…later, in an attempt on his life by Fateh gunmen, Haniya’s bodyguard was killed and twenty others injured, including his son), Israel’s High Court of “Justice", also known as the “Kangeroo Court” in Israeli legal circles, ruled unanimously to legalize assassinations by Israeli forces against Palestinians.

A three-judge panel ruled that they could not prohibit in advance every Israeli “targeted killing”, a now-popular euphemism for assassination against Palestinian figures.

The ruling gives legitimacy to a practice that, though illegal under international law, is routinely used by Israeli forces against members of the Palestinian factions. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem, 339 Palestinians have been extra-judicially killed over the past six years, almost half of those bystanders.

But let’s not kid ourselves-the Israeli Army does not need the approval of its Kangeroo Court to exrtra-judicially kill us. So what’s the real reason behind the decision?

According to Reuters and Haareatz, former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak said the ruling would assist Israeli military officers in defending themselves against a slew of war crimes lawsuits filed against them in foreign courts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Second judge in one week murdered

For the second time in one week, a judge was murdered today in broad daylight by unknown assailants in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. Bassem el-Farra, who happens to be a relative of ours on my mother's side of the family, was on his way to the Shari'a Court where he works when four gunmen sprayed him with bullets, only two days after the gruesome killing of the three children of a senior Fateh intelligence chief.

Hamas has accused the so-called "death squads" of Fateh for the attack again el-Farra, who is also a senior leader within Hamas's Izz-e-din il-Qassam Brigades.

Fateh supporters have blamed Hamas for the surge in lawlessness in recent days, an accusation which Hamas flatly rejects.

"It's strange that the situation intensified after Fatah announced that unity government talks are at a stand- still," said Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam to Palestinian papers.

According to Siyam, internal security is the responsibility of not only the interior minister and the government, but of Abbas as well, who is considered the commander-in-chief of the Palestinian security forces.

"The recent kidnapping of journalists and many of the recent violent incidents were actually carried out by Fatah. We (Hamas) on the other hand, fired operatives who were involved in aberrant incidents," Siyam explained.

"Our requests to the Fatah-affiliated security forces to detain the operatives responsible for the kidnapping were rejected, and Fatah continues to support them," he added.

Three days ago, another judge, Jamal Abu Salim, was killed in the same area.

Amidst the chaos, both sides have noted the absence and silence of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, demanding he make his voice heard and come to Gaza to quell rising fears of civil unrest.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who done it?

24 hours after yesterday's gruesome attack, Fateh protests, complete with the hurling of insults against their rivals Hamas, have continued unabated throughout Gaza's streets.

And although Fateh run Palestine TV has also been careful to lay blame prematurely, Fateh supporters continued to run amuck in the streets of Gaza, spraying bullets into the air during charged demonstrations, blocking off major city roads with burning tyres, and pitching solidarity tents in from of Mahmoud Abbas's Gaza City home.

The incident continued to dominate conversations almost everywhere around Gaza-in barbershops and taxis, in schools and homes. Mostly, people are trying to solve the mystery of who was behind the attacks, having largely dismissed initial theories that it was Hamas gunmen.

According to some inside sources, the act was actually Fateh on Fateh attack.

Apparently, Balousha had some sort of information on another high profile figure within Fateh that somebody thought should die with him. Except, of course, he missed his target.

Balousha had reportedly documented CIA money transfers to Abbas’s Fateh movement, and who was getting paid, as well as some other information about local drug dealers. I guess if you are an intelligence chief, there is a limitless number of reasons that people would want you dead.

Fateh supporters have been blaming Hamas for being slow to respond-saying they were able to catch those who fired upon Interior Minister Saeed Siyam’s car (a Hamas minister) within hours, and so naturally they should have been able to catch these perpetrators.

Except apparently, Hamas’s executive force is not allowed to deploy everywhere or operate fully: Abbas’s orders. Hamas's response: if their security forces were given the chance, then they could do their job.

Regardless, it appears Balousha and his people had some idea who was responsible-or so he hinted during an interview on Palestine TV today.

It seems the perpetrators of yesterday’s heinous crime are now in the custody of the preventive security forces (who remained under the President, not the Prime Minister’s, authority…confused yet?), though the head honcho, Atif Bakr, is still at large.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gaza mourns victims of unknown assailants

It began at about 7am: Continous machine gun banter,, dozens of rounds in a row, and only one street down from our house. More infighting, we assumed, or maybe disgruntled security forces. But it didn't stop. We opened the local radio and learned that 3 children had been killed-sons of an intelligence official, Colonel Baha Balousha, loyal to Mahmoud Abbas's Fateh party.

They were shot dead in a car outside their school in Gaza on Monday, spilling pools of blood along the street.

Balousha, along with Mohammad Dahalan, is known as one of the figures involved in a then Fateh-run PA crackdown against and torture of Hamas members a decade ago, and he has been at odds with Hamas for some time. Hamas denied responsiblity and called the crime gruesome.

Fatah supporters blocked off main roads in the city with burning tyres, and others called for a general strike, shooting at stores who refused to close shop.

They stormed the parliment and called for the Hamas-run government's immediate resignation, shooting wildly into the air throughout the city and making scathing insults against Hamas leaders.

Tensions were running very high and threatened to spill over into the streets-everybody wanted someone to blame and for Fateh, that someone was Hamas.

Hamas withdrew its forces to avoid confronation, and later at night in a show of solidarity, representatives of all the factions, including Hamas, joined forces with Fateh in a candelight vigil against violence and criminality in front of the father's house.

Everyone is mourning and searching for answers and of course for the assailants. No one can comprehend who would commit such a brutal act-which people seem to think was intentional (the targetting of the children) given the time and location. Others say the intended target wasthe father. But mostly, everybody wants a solution.

Today's sad events have triggered widespread fear and uncertainty. The tension is palpable in the air and threatens to boil over at any time. As the florist down the street told me, "I used to say before I was afraid of what is coming. But now, I am REALLy afraid. No body knows what's going to happen next."

Nightdrive: Gaza's only english radio program

I've been invited as a guest on Gaza's only english radio program, which airs on al-Quds radio station (102.7FM) and broadcast out of Gaza City each Monday at 5:30pm Gaza Time. The producer and host is a young freelance fixer and journalist in training called Yousef Helou.

You can listen in live via live audio streaming at

Yousef says the proram's motto is "we are your window to Palestine".

They will also be conducting phone interviews with the prominent Palestinian journalist and intellectual Mr Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London based Al-Quds Al Arabi and an exclusive phone interview with Maria Telire, the media spokeswoman of the European monitors stationed at the Rafah crossing; and Hamas sppokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.

According to Yousef, we will be having an open discussion on:

"1) The closure of Rafah crossing and the anguish, misery and suffering of travelers

2) Isolating the Gaza strip and disallow foreign passport holders from entering the gaza strip

3) Human rights day

4) The increasing tension between Fateh and Hamas after the president called for early parliamentary and presidential election and dismiss the government

5) security chaos and the misirebale situation in Gaza

6) Palestinian unity and the fragile truce

7) The x-US president Jimmy carter's book and his critiscim of Israel"

Yousef encourages everyone to participate and support his fledgling program by either calling the studio lines on 009728 2849424 or 009728 2849428 or by sending an SMS on 00970 599 95 50 69

Another post on today's bloody events in a bit...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gideon Levy on Rafah Crossing

Check out Haaretz's Gideon Levy on the story of Rafah Crossing (hey, Yousuf gets an honorble mention!) in today's paper:

"These people want to return home. Israel does not even allow them this. They are human beings with families, plans and commitments, longings and dignity, but who cares.

Without anyone paying attention, the Gaza Strip has become the most closed-off strip of land in the world - after North Korea. But while North Korea is globally known to be a closed and isolated country, how many people know that the same description applies to a place just an hour away from hedonist Tel Aviv?

What memories will the toddler harbor from the three weeks of waiting in a crowded line with his mother on the border, humiliated and sad on the way home, to incarcerated Gaza, withering in its poverty? And who will be brought to account for this in the end?"

There is method in this madness...

So we’re back and I think I’m only now beginning to recover from what I call the “Rafah Crossing Hangover”. You feel fine at first and once you finally get home and set your bags down you think “hey that wasn’t so bad!” Then, around 6pm, it hits you like a sack of rice. First your back gives way, and it feels like a truck ran it over. Then you begin to lose sensation in your legs as they go numb. Disorientation.,. and soon, collapse!

By 8pm we were all out cold and woke up the next day not knowing where I am and with a headache no amount of coffee could fix. Yousuf woke up and walked to the door leading to our balcony instead of the house-not realizing where he was either. It took us a few days to finally regain consciousness.

The Border itself was a picture of agony. Because of the sheer numbers of people waiting to cross, the Egyptians had sectioned off the crowds via several roadblocks. Our final goal of making it into Gaza seemed formidable at 7am, as we arrived and saw thousands upon thousands of passengers trying to get through in any way possible.

When my parents realized they wouldn’t be crossing anytime soon-with a donkey cart full of luggage behind them-Yousuf and I went ahead with only our passports and my backpack, only to find about 5000 people amassed in front of the Egyptian gate awaiting entry.

Only a few were being allowed in at a time, because ultimately the buses that were sent off in to the Palestinian side can accommodate about 80 people-procedure passed down from the Israelis

As we reached the outside of the gate, all I saw in front of me was people climbing on top of each other, looping their bags around and through the crowds to try and make it to the front. Simply making it TO that gate was a task. It was every person for themselves. In the chaos, one woman forgot her daughter, about Yousuf’s age, and I picked her up lest she be crushed under the thousands of legs.

A few hours later, I made contact with my parents-they had miraculously made their way to the front-while I remained in the back. With a lot of yelling and jostling, I managed to wind my way through the crowds to join them, and of course there was more waiting ahead. By the time we finally made it to the Palestinian side, it was about 1pm. We waited in the infamous “bus” for the Israelis to give the approval for us to pass-apparently the video monitoring extends to the outside of the terminal as well.

Blue-bereted EU monitors watched intently. I looked around at the faces of each of the people on our bus, including a man who had metal rods in his leg after his fifth leg operation in 3 years. I couldn’t’ help but think how no one will realize what every one of these people have been through…just to return to their homes.

The crossings closed shortly after we made it across, and thousands remain stranded behind us. I looked back, feeling for one second I had abandoned them, not knowing what more I could do.
I keep getting asked how it feels to be back. My first impression was feeling as if I was sucked into a black hole or vaccum. Very eerie going into a place that has methodically been turned into one of the world’s most isolated. You feel sort of distant and displaced and unsettled. And of course, there is a mixture of exhilaration and relief and uncertainty.

But you also feel accomplished, as though by merely being able to cross you have exercised a act of awesome proportions-defying the far-reaching grip of the occupation in the even the remotest and seemingly insignificant of ways.

I think the most disturbing and overwhelming feeling of all is having to come to grips with the realization that your life-and how you live that life-continues to be controlled wholly and absolutely by an Occupier, and that their ability to deny you entry to your own home so abruptly, so arbitrarily, and yet so methodically largely to the acquiescence and complicity of the world has become accepted.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Home sweet home

At last-we've made it through. We left at 6am, and by later afternoon were in Gaza City. But we were a only a handuful of thousands- I estimated 5000- still stranded and unable to get through to Gaza, or out of Gaz.a All of Rafah's roads have been blocked off by the sheer number of people trying to get out. More tommorow plus osme pictues..

Is tommrow the day?

More rumours- everything beepd and rang at once. Our cell phones, chat programs...
Even our guests phones from the Ministry of Environment, who were over, began ringing... news from Gaza, from so and so source at the border, from a local radio station, from an internet news site, that the border would open tommorow for one day, from 8-5pm, during which thousands will try to return home, and thousands of others to go out-include pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

The news seemed to confirm itself one phone after another; then Palestine TV brought the breaking news, and more and more internet sights.

So, once more, we are packing up our belongings, just when our neighbour was contemplating buying a frying pan, and we head to the border tommorow at 7am.

From there, as ever, we will wait and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The only thing that's certain

My mother saw a group of men collecting some wood off the beach the other day. She assumed they were custodial workers and thanked them for their work, asking why the Municipality didn’t send people out to clean up the beach more often.

It was then that she realized they were actually not trash collectors but Palestinians searching for driftwood to light a small campfire with. Not only that, but as she would learn, it was the Palestinian Minister of the Environment, Yousuf Abu Safiya (who has a permanent post that predates this January’s elections) and two of his co-workers. It appears they are also stuck in Egypt, and staying a few flats down from us. They came over later at night as we discussed everything from politics to the adverse affects of the water’s nitrate content on children in Khan Yunis.

Apparently he tried calling Mahmud Abbas’s Office today to ask whether they knew when the border might open. Their answer: “well, we heard maybe today. But if not today, for sure tomorrow, or the day after…or Friday….”

As a cousin in Gaza joked “there’s only one thing for certain, and that’s that nobody knows when it will open!!”

Monday, December 04, 2006

what do I tell a two-year-old?

He keeps asking me about the border. Yousuf, I mean. He overhears things, ma3bar this and ma3bar that…and so naturally inquisitive, he asks what we are doing and why are we still here and each question if followed by another and another..

“Mama can I ask you something?”

“Anything, my love”

“Why are we still here, in Arish?”

“Because we are waiting to enter Gaza, dear”

“But then why don’t we go to Gaza?

Because the ma3bar is closed, my love.

“Why is it still closed??”

“Mommy why is still closed?”

“I don’t know.” I know my, dear, but do you really want to know? Do you really need to know?

“Well who’s closing it mommy?”

What do I tell him? “Some bad people.”

“You mean like in the stories, like Sheer Khan in the Jungle Book?”

“Yes, sure, like Sheer Khan.”

“But who are they? Who are these bad people Is it the yahood?” He asks, mimicking what he’s heard on the border.

What do I say? I hesitate. “Look, there are some people; some are good, some are bad. And the bad ones are closing the border."

But why? What did we do?

I wish I knew, my dear. I wish I had all the answers, my love, so I could answer all your questions. I wish I didn’t have to answer such questions to start with. But now I do, and what can I say to you?

“Mommy, please tell them to open it.”

“I tried, my dear.”

“Try harder. Try again. Tell them again. Please, tell them ‘Yousuf wants to enter Gaza’.”

And so it goes:

Dear Mr. Peretz: My son Yousuf, 2 years and 9 months, would like me to inform you that he wants to enter Gaza. He has asked me to tell whoever it is who is keeping it closed to open the border for him immediately. In fact, he asks me everyday. And now, asking is no long sufficient: he wants answers, too. Why is the border still closed? And who is keeping it closed and why? So, in addition to asking you to open the border, I am also writing to ask you what I can tell a 2 year old to satisfy his insatiable curiosity. What can I tell him of borders and occupation and oppression and collective punishment? What would YOU tell him? Lying doesn’t work-2 year olds are like natural born lie detectors. And so he figures it’s the bad guy-like in the stories that we all read growing up. And now, he demands to know who the bad guy is. What do I tell a 2 year old, Mr. Peretz, about the bad guy who won’t let him return home?

A Palestinian mother

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Make some noise!!

With the border still closed, I've been trying to keep busy-and take some action in any way I know how. For me, that means writing and networking to inform as much media as possible. I'm working now on getting some television crews out to film the border-though with the tight Egyptian security bans, that might be difficult.

We are also considering pitching up some tents near the border and camping out during the days-but as one man I met at the Crosing pointed out "if the Egyptians kill 8 of their own in protests in FRONT of the media, think about what they will do to us!!"

So for now, I've been writing. Two articles for Aljazeera, one on the UN/OCHA report saying that Israel has broken every provision of the year old US-brokered Agreement on Movement and Access, and another short feature on people who are caught at the crossing.

I've also written a commentary for the Guardian's Comment is Free blog, and have continued doing audio postcards for the BBC's World Update program. I also reported on the matter to Pacifica's FSRN news.

Also my thanks and thoughts with all of those who have sent emails of support and solidarity.

All I can say now is: Go out and make some noise in any way YOU know how!!