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."


Blogger Frank said...

Hello Laila

I caught the tail end of an inverview with you on BBC World Service Yesterday morning.

Nice one!

Now do your comments work this time now that you have switched moderation on?

7:24 PM  
Blogger Assad-u-LLAH said...

Battle lines are drawn as Israeli allies among Arab regimes meet to coordinate the fight against the Iran-Syria axis

1:51 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Dear Laila

I am saddened that there are only two comments on your blog in a week.

You talked of how alone you felt at Raffah while your comments were suspended and I was gladdened by how many people congratulated you when you finally got through.

So just so you know that you aren't forgotten (I was about to say something totally inappropriate like Merry Christmas) I might light a candle for you and Yusuf at Midnight Mass.

10:00 AM  

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