Wednesday, May 23, 2007

War games

Just to re-assure my readers, we are alive and well. I've just been busy reporting and filming and simply trying to go on with my life. The situation has a way of getting in your head, but to quote my friend Taghreed, you have to put is aside, compartmentalize, and move on with your life.

I published this article in Aljazeera after speaking to a number of people about how the situation is affecting them.

I was down in Rafah again this week. While inspecting the site of a future park project my friend Fida is working on (and which we are making a film about), we were disrupted every few minutes by the voracious sound of multiple F-16 fighter jets flying overhead in unision. Sometimes one or two; then four or five.

Children scurried about playing football with a deflated basketball on the sand lot.

"Do you think I will be assassinated one day?" one child asked another. He didn't say this jokingly.

I can't sleep. I get up maybe once every two hours. Go to the bathroom, walk around a little, and then doze off again. Only to be awakened by the drones, followed by the manic hovering of helicopter gunships.

This time they were directly over our apartment building. I would have been afraid, except this happened once before, maybe two years ago. Panicked and fearful at the time, I called my cousin, who re-assured me that when an Apache is directly overhead, it means its intended target is about 500 metres to one kilometre away. It is information I wish I did not know.

So this time, I didn't flinch. I just waited for the dreadful conclusion. The intensity of the propeller's sound waned and intensified at various intervals, until finally two missiles were fired. I could hear them hissing, and then, exploding.

My friend Saeed, who is staying in a hotel next to us, said he saw flashes of light outside-apparently the drones taking pictures of the resulting explosions for keepsakes (and of course to show off to the media how "precide" their attacks are).

Former Israeli Prime Minister and current leader of the opposition Benyamin Netanyahu has called for Israel to cut water and electricity to Gaza. Because that will do a great deal of good, obviosly. We are still feeling the effects of last summer's attack on Gaza's powerplants-especially as summer nears. Electricity is beginning to be rationed and power outages are becomign more frequent now. The UN says there ar solutions-but the energy authority, like every other instition in Gaza, is simply too financially strapped.

Electricity for about 50,000 people was cut off two days ago during one of

Meanwhile, Rafah Crossing is still closed. It has only been open four days over the past month, less than 40% of the time over the past year. There are an estimated 5000 people waiting to cross on either side.


Blogger Kevin said...

Any comments on the sad situation in Lebanon.

Short of expecting everyone to return to Palestine, a solution which does not appear imminent, what can be done to prevent additional outbreaks of violence in Lebanon?

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are such a brave woman and mother.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...when an Apache is directly overhead, it means its intended target is about 500 metres to one kilometre away... So this time, I didn't flinch." Two years ago Laila, you were terrorized because you didn't know that. But now you were calm because you know the Apache had an 'intended' target. Terror is a product of the randomness of the threat -- something that Hamas with their Qassams on Sderot have developed to an art. Ironically, what I derive from your post is that you have learned to trust the Israelis.

P.S. If the drones were taking pictures of explosions they wouldn't need "flashes of light". More than likely Saeed was seeing flares designed to mislead possible ground fire.

Arnie from NYC

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here you go kevin:


now back to the topic

can you tell us why Lailah deserves this or any of the people in palestine?

to be invaded, driven into refugee camps and then shot at for israheli sport?

1:05 AM  
Blogger John Mullis said...

How can you retain such cool professionalism in the face of such injustice and in constant fear for your own life? How can the world go so ill informed by the international media of the plight and suffering of ordinary Palestinians? Where is the International community and its various aid programs? Where is the honesty of the puppet masters? Where is the outcry that followed the Holocaust?

Keep strong Laila, truth is ultimately stronger than lies.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Moses said...

My salaam to Fida and all of Rafah.

Um Yousef are you in touch with George Azar?

Oh and it turns out Oprah Winfrey is visiting Israel at the invitation of Elie Wiesel. Lots of us are sending her suggestions to visit Palestine (I specifically pointed her to your blog and to Fida). Her contact by email is:

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The interviews you did for Al-Jazeera were very powerful. Thank you. Stay safe.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see the Palestinian guy on the news yesterday, begging Israel to come back because life was so much better under the "occupation"? Why is it that the Palestinians cannot rule themselves?

Laila, you talk about the fighter jets overheard and I'm sure that is frightening, but you didn't mention the HUNDREDS of Kassam rockets that your people are shooting into Sderot, killing a woman two days ago. You can't expect Israel to do nothing. My God, even the European Union came out and said Israel has a right to defend herself against attack!

Why are the Palestinians intent on killing each other and destroying, rather than cooperating and building? It's very sad. I feel sorry for the children.

9:11 AM  
Blogger kris said...

good to hear that you are alright!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon did you know the town of Sderot used to be called Najd?

and i found you a map:

take a look around the site
also this quote from Moshe Dayan:

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

palestine maps for those confused about where it is

12:13 PM  
Blogger JohnB said...

What continues to amaze me here are the comments that support the IDF's actions to "protect" Israel.

Yes, the Qassam's are dangerous and having a limited facility for targeting, there is a fear that their randomness may well cause harm However, to sit there (presumably) and type out that having an Apache helicopter hovering overhead is NOT terror simply because it may or may not be targeting someone else is ridiculous. We have all seen the power in the weaponary that the IDF has. comparing that to a Qassam is like comparing the child's kite to an airplane.

The terror here is in knowing that you have a very powerful neighbor who wishes to inflict their will using weapons with great destructive power. The fact that there is an Apache overhead and that you can "trust" the Israeli's somehow is baseless. Why? Because one does not know if somewhere there is another Apache hovering a kilometer away with the target being your own apartment building...

The killing, the brutal domination of one people on another must stop.


1:09 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Your blog has openend my eyes to the reality of our world today. You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to me. I am glad you are alright and hope that you will find peaceful sleep again soon.
I am an American, raised overseas and know the sound of gunfire at night but that was a long time ago. I know sleep peacefully and my worries are nothing compared to so many especially in Gaza.
Thank you for your blog.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Ori said...

My thoughts are with you and the people of Gaza. You are a brave journalist.

6:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home