Saturday, August 27, 2005

My top ten list

As the Israeli disengagement from Gaza draws to a close (we still got those pesky soldiers watching over us like guardian angels), I’ve reflected on my time here, Yousuf in hand (and in womb at one point) as I covered every aspect of Gaza (and I mean that….from rowing refugees to Gazan rappers to archeological digs to assassinations to home demolitions to artifical insemination). I’ve come up with a *tentative* list of my top ten most memorable moments of the past two years, in no particular order:

1. Having to spend the night in Rafah in a stranger’s home during an Israeli seige of the area, while 5 months pregnant with shells flying over my head and sniper fire all around, because Israeli forces had sealed it off and I unable to return to Gaza (at least not the same way I came in...sneaking through someone's farm under a rain of fire).

2. Chasing down Sheikh Ahmed Yasin (before he was assassinated) amidst throngs of Hamas supporters in a rally of 10, 000 people down Gaza city’s streets, while 8 months pregnant, in my maternity jeans and sneakers. When I finally caught up with him, heaving, sweaty, and ready to fall over, I was invited into his simple home, given a seat and an open-ended interivew. Yasin was extremely nice, and answered my questions, oddly enough, with verses of poetry. “Aren’t you afraid of being assassinated,” I asked forbodingly. “A swimmer is never afraid of drowning,” he replied.

3. Being lifted up into the air on a rooftop by an enthusiastic resident of Jabaliya during Operation Days of Penitence, who, while trying to be helpful, put my life in danger, so he could show me an Israeli helicopter gunship that appeared out of no where and began firing at his neighbors a few meters away from us. Over 120 Palestinians were killed during the brutal operation, nearly 1/3 of them children.

4. Riding a donkey cart down rocky slope and across the beach with a then four-month-old
Yousuf strapped to my side in a baby carrier to make it to Rafah crossing on our way to the
US, in a trip that would stretch out to over 48 hours. Israeli forces had sectioned Gaza into
three parts, closing off the coastal road in front of Netzarim to all traffic.

Then, Waiting four more hours in the August heat for a very fickle Israeli soldier to open the
Abo Holi crossing. Letting Yousuf run loose in the nude because it was so hot.

5. Seeing my mother lose her sanity at the fence at Rafah crossing separating us from the Israelis, threatening to walk out in front of the Israei watchtower with her hands raised in the air if we weren’t allowed through. Seeing the expression of the palestinain officers-who seemed more scared of my mother than of the Israeli soldiers.

6. Despite all this, seeing Yousuf giggle at Israeli troops stamping our passports in Rafah
crossing, and my mother's joking response: "no no Yousuf dear, don't giggle, that's the enemy."

7. Spending 55 day’s of imposed exile in Cairo with a jet-lagged, crawl-crazy Yousuf, in an unfurnished, cold apartment (that managed to grow on me) after Israel closed down Rafah crossing, the night we arrived back from a trip to the US.

8. After the Crossing finally opened, yelling at an Israeli soldier after waiting 5 hours in that stinkin’ border bus with my face smashed against a window and having to change Yousuf’s poop-bomb on the ground in a no-man’s land with tanks in front of us, and recieving no response when I asked why the delay if the terminal was practically empty. Then, being told by a superior officer that my behaviour was “not proper”.

9. Forgetting my role as a journalist for a moment and crying alongside the grieving parents of 10-year-old Noran Deeb, whose life was taken by an Israeli sniper as she stood waiting in line, singing with her classmates, waiting to to enter her classroom in the besieged town of Rafah.

10. Thinking of my own son every minute of every day. Knowing he was always there at the end of the day to give me his little koala hug and wet smooches, no matter how many terrible things have been. Being unable to imagine my life without him. Knowing, how wonderful life, now that he’s in the world....


Blogger solitarioh2005 said...

Nice post .
The idea of writting down the top ten moments.., in a certain period of time , is a very good one, indeed.
The way you describe each one of these moments is quite good, either.
Finally you end up with golden key ( as we say in portuguese) , in a perfect way . You describe a sweet moment in your life.

(Sorry 4 the english ).
When it comes to talk about arafat I am slightly better but..,I cant do it here lol.

3:06 AM  
Blogger solitarioh2005 said...

monday 29 august my older brother did visit me.
He does not live in portugal, Since he was spending holidays here he decided to drop by my home.

He was on his way to nazare a city 80 miles from lisbon.
He drag me with him.
We left linbon around 7 30 PM.~

We arrived leiria a town 30 minutes from Nazare around 9 PM.
We did dinner there witth a friend of my brother.

All went well . We left leiria at 00 30.

It happens my brother does live abroad ,
His wife was driving , and we got lost.

After 2 hours of trip , in a secondary road we saw a car ahead of us.

When the driver saw us he pulled to the side of the road as if he was going to stop.

We pass thought him..., and the car that had just pulled to the side of the road start moving again , following us.

Next it did flash all its lights on our rear.
The wife of my brother who was driving felt anguish. She immediatelly fell that something was very wrong.
it was 2 15 AM.

The road was completely empty.
No cars in sight .
It was strange that a car in our rear in the middle of the night had all his lights on our rear.

Our car start acelerating. the wife of my brother did acelerate to More than 100 miles per hour , 160 km , trying to distance herself from the other car.

The other car tought managed to catch us and the persecution went on.

Suddely we found some houses.
It was a kind of hotel at the side of the road.

My sister in law pretended she was going to the hotel pulled to the side of the road.
The other car did stop also and enter in the park of the hotel.

In that moment my sister in law start acelerating again , and we get in the road again.

Seeing thaT the other car RETURNED TO THE ROAD and resumed the persecution.

We almost stop the car.., and the other veicule passed throught us but next reduced speed almost stoping.

Realizing he was really chasing us.., i said we should call the national Guard , and try to stop near a coffee shot and ask for help.

Thats what we did. When he saw another house at the side of the road We pulled to the side of the road again.I got out of the car banged in the door but No one was in the home, tought.
We stoped for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile the other car had dissapear from sight.


After 5 minutes of waiting we start moving again.

The other car was nowhere to be seen...;

But suddenly...;

He was following us again.

He had also pulled on the side of the road waiting for us.., in a ambush.

He had just did what we had done and pulled to the side of the road and waited for us.
When he saw us he resumed the chase.

My sister in law almost stop and the other car pass thought us again and was now in front of us.

Suddenly we had to stop at a red light. The other car was ahead of us again , .
In that moment my sister in law , did a U turn..., and speed on in the direction of the hotel we had pass some time before.
We had to arrive to the hotel and seek help.

We did it.

Once having arrived to the park hotel we told the story to some portuguese drivers, emigrants in france spending holydays in portugal.

They were very nice.

They were driving in a group of 3 cars.
One of them said :

I have something that can take care of the guy in case we met him - he said.

He was saying he was armed. He had a gun.

In a caravan of 4 cars with an armed driver we left the park hotel and the pusuer was nowhere to be seen. He dissapear.
Next timew you spend holydays in portugal , be carefull.
This history was true.

3:10 AM  
Blogger solitarioh2005 said...

i guess the plan of the fellow was to pass us and stop the car in the midle of the road , in the place where he start pursuing us. The plan got wrong since my mother in law speed on to 100 miles , 160 kilometers ,hour.

Of course I do not advise that behaviour to anyone since she took a big ,big risk.

When we saw the hotel..,pass throught it ..,we were already in a place with some houses and the guy hesitated and did not immediatelly stop the car in front of us.

(Maybe he wanted to find a isolated place with no homes in sight to stop the car in the middle of the road).
If Laila ever does visit portugal..,better bring with her a coupole of militants from Gaza, preferably with some weaponry , lol.

3:36 AM  

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