Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Erin Brokovich in Gaza

I woke up just before 6am today. The shooting doesn’t usually wake me, but the past two days it has been of a different nature. I looked outside only to see two guards ducking for cover, I decided to try and get some more sleep. Yesterday 16 people died, 60 were injured. In the evening, when things seemed quieter I ventured downstairs with Mohamed to the little “park” next to our building. The trees and flowers were planted there just 2 weeks ago. Abu Raed told his boys to water the plants even though they had been watered the day before because “we don’t know when we will be able to water them again.”

Yousef, a close friend of Zakaris’ was among the dead yesterday. I had bought some of my favorite Egyptian cheese from Yousef a few months ago in Rafah. He was part of reinforcements that were ambushed as they arrived on the scene of 200 National Security forces that were under attack by Hamas. Zakari had no words to share on the phone, neither did I.

Earlier in the evening Mohamed and I witnessed an attempted attack on the presidential headquarters by gunmen on boats. The coast was beautifully lined with fishing boats on the horizon and suddenly we heard gunfire and red flares filled the sky. Just hours earlier I saw Fatah men playing volleyball on a makeshift volleyball net. Somehow sports and warfare seemed to be compatible. Over his radio Mohamed heard that a Fatah man had been picked up on his was to the Shifa hospital, killed and left on a street in front of a popular restaurant. Despair filled his face. He turned off the radio and we watched ‘Erin Brokovich’. Somehow the statement Julie Roberts makes at the end of the film that money could buy anything one ever needed rang hollow. Money won’t buy security here; bringing justice to the historical events that have created this conflict is the only thing that will bring about change.

After dinner Mohamed told me he thought he had a sleeping sickness. He was tired all day. He had slept till 11am, then took a nap from 1 to 4:30 and by 11 was tired again. I believe Mohamed is depressed, because hope is missing. He will never forget the memory of his nephews being murdered in December. Mohamed is continually dreaming of a life elsewhere, outside of these walls, beyond this place he is supposed to call home. He has only lived here for the past five years, like so many others he has grown up in a whole slew of countries, Yemen, Syria, Tunisa, Libya and Egypt. He doesn’t feel at home here, he doesn’t belong anywhere. Beyond all the TV headlines, beyond all the fighting yesterday, this is what the nakba, the catastrophe of displacement is really about.

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