Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Empire Strikes Back

I got very little sleep last night. Yes, the Empire struck back. Funny, because yesterday was the first night in a week I decided not to cover Yousuf’s crib with a sheet, in case-Heaven forbid- the window were to shatter on him from the force of a sonic boom. I also closed all the windows because it’s been particularly cold in our usually temperate little Gaza this week. Wouldn’t you know it, Murphy does it again.

I had just finished a midnight call with my husband, when around 1am-BOOM, rattle, and shake. Thank God no windows broke. Interestingly, this time I was relatively well-composed. My heart was racing, yes, but I think I have finally confronted the fear of the attacks (on which I wrote an article here for aljazeera). Or maybe I was too tired or dazed to fully comprehend them. Or maybe the suggesions of my dentist helped (he said i was grinding my teeth at night, causing migranes, because of the stress, and suggested I engage in stress-relieving exercises)

The same cannot be said for my mother, who I called out to frantically 4 times before eliciting a response. She was literally scared stiff. I ran to check on Yousuf, who woke up, and decided to put him to sleep with me. The aerial assault on northern Gaza continued all night, and we could hear Israeli aircraft pounding streets and buildings in the distance. Around 6:30am, my windows rattled once again from another sonic boom. Yousuf seemed ok in the morning-as I said to my friend, how little toddlers comprehend of men and war.

I then scanned Haaretz, which reported that the Israeli Army will begin enforcing their 5km buffer zone tonight (which covers 2 major northern gaza towns), and advise Palestinian residents to either “shut themselves up in their homes” or flee before they strike. “The army will warn residents that leaving their homes will mean putting themselves in danger.” The warnings will be given through thousands of flyers dropped by Israeli aircraft.

Well, at least they are being humane about all this. I wonder what the flyers will say. “Hi there! We’re going to destroy your neighborhood today, possibly your house. Just a head’s up. Have a great day!”

I was then greeted by the hammering of Kaleshnikovs a few streets over-courtesy of your friendly neighborhood “disgruntled” gunmen (there seem to be a lot of “disgruntled” gunmen these days. I should talk to the Reuters fella who popularized the phase about thinking up a new one. Maybe ‘opportunistic gunmen’. ‘daft gunmen’.) Yet again, armed al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade’s members took over government buildings, “demanding jobs” (for me, that translates into “we want payoffs”), and yet again, it is somehow quickly resolved.

The frequency of these events is making me doubt more and more the futureof the Fateh party, and of Mahmud Abbas’s grip on Gaza. I do not think either will last after elections. Meanwhile, more and more, I hear people-including Christian friends-talk about how Hamas is gaining respect, and popularity, with every passing idiotic Fateh incident. As one guest put it today, “At least they can control their members, at least they can provide some calm.” And sometimes, that’s all people really want.


Blogger Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

Great article! Especially for getting the anonymous quote..

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Laila. Too bad about the sonic booms. Last week I was in school one morning (in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood - near the '67 border on the West Bank side) and we heard a BOOM and the whole building shook. The study hall, which had been very noisy with students studying together, immediately became silent. We were all positive that there had just been a suicide attack nearby -- there is a shopping mall across the street. We waited, everyone afraid to move, to see whether the sound of approaching ambulances would confirm it. After about 30 seconds, we decided it was either a sonic boom, or the boiler exploding. The boiler was fine, so it must have been a plane. It was a sobering experience for all of us on a lot of levels.

I don't know what the point is of this comment. I guess I just wanted to share!

Anyhow, I have another question for you, regarding Hamas/Fatah. What is the word on the Palestinian street regarding Hamas' status as a terrorist organization, vis-a-vis the responsibility they would have to deal with Israelis if they come into power? That is, on the one hand Hamas has more clout within Gaza. On the other hand, the more Palestinians vote for Hamas, the less Israelis have reason to believe that Palestinians will ever allow Israel to exist peacefully. What kind of discussions are going on about this around Palestinian dinner tables?

Please excuse me if my comment reveals ignorance of some major and recent news. I've been dealing with the death of my grandmother and have no idea what has been going on in the world in the last few days!

4:37 AM  

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