Friday, March 31, 2006

Just another day in paradise

You better duck when that awful sound goes


Thats what's happenin in the parking lot
Thats whats happenin on stage

Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, that awful sound

Roots and Nancy Sinatra; what better way to describe another day in paradise…er, Gaza. I heard that phrase a lot, paradise. Of people describing their homes; their gardens; their razed orchards. They don’t see the war and the destruction and the lawlessness and all of the ugliness of occupation and anarchy.

They see beauty.

*BOOOM boom*

Living here is always surreal, to it mildly. But you learn to compartmentalize and move on with your life. Internalize, adapt and survive. Sometimes, for a moment, I try and detach this adapted self from my body, to re-gain perspective.

Yesterday, as I was having mint tea and date cookies at my cousin’s house, who is here visiting from the UK where her husband is completing his pHD (her daughter is the the “cutie” pictured behind Yousuf below). Her father-in-law, a fiery little man of 80 something years, was debating with his son, something about the differences of the Palestinian educational system “then and now”, as Yousuf sat trying to compete for Dalia’s (my cousin’s daughter) attention, playing with her dolls and baby stroller (yes, my son is in touch with his feminine side).

And swirling all around us, as entertainment for the evening, was a “symphony” of war, as people like to describe it here. The distinct double-boom of tank artillery shells, *BOOM boom*, every few seconds, along with the single explosions of what I would later learn were navy-gunship attacks, interdispersed with rapid machine-gun fire, a swarm of drones whirring incessantly overhead, and Apache helicopters attacking areas in northern and easern Gaza.

My cousin told her daughter they were just fireworks and not to be alarmed, so she too (four-years-old), casually ignored them.

The shelling ceased for a while after that, until around 3am where we were literally shocked awake by a tremendous explosion. Just two streets down from us- an F-16 warplane had dropped bomb on a playing field (that was the site of a large celebration attended by over 100, 000 Palestinians, including Ismail Haniya, and members of different factions commemorating Land Day), something that has not happened in a while because of the disproportionalality and potential causalities inflicted in using such weaponry against a densely populated city and its civilian population.

The field was empty, but the explosion left a tremendous crater and its sheer force scared us senseless. At first we though it might be a sonic boom, but it did not have the distinct after-echo that accompanies that. This explosion was so loud I thought I might find the street in front of me taken out; that or doomsday was upon us. Sometimes I think when it comes I might not know the difference. We weren’t sure what was happening, and because of the drones overhead, all the television satellite signals were scrambled, so we panicked and held hands in bed until it passed.

It’s quiet again this morning. The sun it out. Yousuf is taking his nap. Beit Lahiya wild berries are in season. Bees are pollinating with spring’s explosion of color and fertility. And somewhere of Gaza’s besieged coast, a fisherman is lamenting his luck at sea.

It’s just another day in paradise


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great comment, couldn't put it better my self.
Apparently Laila would like Israel to just Allow the Palestinian "Factions" (as she put it) to attack Israel and have Israel stand by and not react.

The people in Gaza don't seem to get that if there was quiet on the border they would be left alone, no shels, no planes no nothing. Israel has nothing in Gaza Anymore, What they got instead is a constant remider that the Palestinians don't choose life but choose death, and we see it when they blow themselves up in a car that picked up hitch hickers yesterday.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of only always Bashing Israel, here is something you can report that actually is good for you and Israel:

"Israeli disengagement from Gaza environmentally clean,"

Contrary to what the PA claimed after the pullout - it seems that Israel did not leave the land with polluted water, or other such accusations.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you stand it Laila ...?
The childish games they play in your comments box - undoubtably written from a safe and comfortable place, 3 meals+ per day without fear of drones, navy bombardment, sonic booms or bombs that fall from the sky ... complacent criticisms of undeniable facts.

What they fail to understand, and what makes my heart break when I read you, is that no one should have to live as you do ...

Stay strong.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear Anom,against facts there´s no arguments.
It could be very healthy if somebody just desagree,we could discuss,or expose our points of view.But when someone come here with a different point of view,you pro-Palestinian just start to be "unpolite".
Do something to help,explain why you desagree,how could you help,just explain why you desagree,write your arguments.
Solitario,wasn´t unpolite,or unrespectful,he just said,that would be more helpful if the Palestinians just start to see that they are not be attacking only because someone just decide to.
They are not starving,have you seen pictures from children from Kenia?From Ethiopia? There´s a slighty difference between a palestinian kid don´t you think so?
And by the way Arafat´s wife had enough money to feed them all for a year or more.
I just admire,that Laila just open her Blog to everybody to discuss,if she didn´t want to;she could just shut it,or not allow the comments here.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can no one understand that she is talking about her "Paradise" on what is a normal day in HER life?? She does not have to answer what caused it (its not her fault)! Lets see what happens if you lived in her shoes & experienced "paradise".

Can no jew express sympathy for the average Palestinian that is just trying to live day to day? or do they always have to attack & attack?


7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not an Israeli, nor a Jew, nor a Palestinian, nor a Muslim. I am a mother, though. And my heart aches for each one of you, whoever you are. What do you do to preserve your own sanity? To keep going each day?

Laila, I am glad to have stumbled across your blog and admire your courage and your mother's heart. What do you do to keep strong and healthy and present Yousef with the motherly image you want him to see?


7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good photos. Gaza has some amazingly pretty places for what is said to be one of the most densely populated places on the planet.

Unfortunately, I can't see it getting any better politically. Abu Yousef Abu Quka (a famous launcher of rockets)just got himself assassinated, with the PA/Israelis being blamed - random shooting at the funeral and two more dead.

Have the Fatah people moved their families out of Gaza yet? I expect things are going to get very "hot" there once Hamas can no longer pay the multitude of security forces.

In the last 24 hours:
- 2 citizens were injured by gunfire from members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades over a land dispute.
- 2 children were injured while they were handling a locally manufactured explosive device (in Abu Tir's house, located in Nuseirat refugee camp)
- Thursday, 30 March 2006, unidentified assailants detonated an explosive device against the garage door of a house belonging to Hatem Sabir Othman, 35, who is a Major in the Preventive Security Forces and lives in El-Bureij refugee camp
- Thursday morning, a group of about 30 gunmen, including members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, closed the section of Salah El-Deen Road opposite El-Bureij refugee camp. They were demanding jobs from the Palestinian National Authority
- an explosion targeted the vehicle of an officer from the Preventive Security Forces, in El-Bureij refugee camp. Following the explosion, gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades closed Salah El-Deen Road, opposite El-Bureij refugee camp

Not to mention, on Tuesday morning, 28 March 2006, 10 students were injured when another student threw a home-made hand grenade at them in a quarrel related to a family dispute in Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip. This dispute had previously. Most of the wounded were al-Kafarna clan. This dispute previously killed 7 people and wounded 40 others, including 5 children, due to fighting between the families of al-Kafarna and al-Masri in Beit Hanoun in December 2005. (Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)

When the salary crisis really bites I can only see this getting worse.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put Solitario,
Let´s see what comes next!

9:23 PM  
Blogger Zak said...

What do date cookies look like? Whats the Arabic word for them?

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laila -

I've come to your website for the first time, its beautiful, thank you for having it. Please know people all over the world, some of us in the US, were working in solidarity and celebrating land day. I am excited to keep reading your posts.


9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israelis are speaking out ... oddly enough, it's the soldiers who can no longer stand what they do ...

9:37 PM  
Blogger Moses said...

"A Final word"

Promises, promises.

2:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that this is an ordinary Palestinian woman, who is trying to go about her daily buisness, with no ill intentions towards anyone. Just like i'm sure there are many Jewish mothers who would liek to go about their daily business in peace. Why can't both sides see that they are not so different, and if both made concessions and communicated with each other and themselves there may be an end to this!

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad there's no such thing as a genie or I'd wish all the Israelis and palestinians to switch places. Its not such a bad thing to be forced to walk a mile in anothers shoes. In this case I think the palestinians would get the best of the deal and sure wouldn't want to trade back while the Israelis would get a very quick reality check. On the other hand it might be nice to wish that anyone attempting to harm another person through violent action would get violently sick... Any ideas on which side of the fence would be suffering an epidemic?

5:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Date cookies are called cae'k (I think that is how its spelled. Its made with smeed (semolina) and flour with Dates inside the cookie. Its very good & also made with a walnut mixture as well.

Traditionally, Christians make both during the easter holiday as a family event.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the movie "Paradise Now" last night. It was a very good movie, make you sad for the plight of the Palestinians, I do not agree with suicide bombings but can sympathize with the desperation which the Palestinians are living with. Occupation is not the answer for anyone!!

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:42 PM  

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