Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Burning buildings in Gaza City

Earlier today a building a few minute from my place was taken by Hamas militants. A neighboring building was occupied by Fatah forces and fire was exchanged throughout the day. Eventually the building occupied by Hamas was surrounded by Fatah forces, the Hamas members inside have now set it on fire. Hamas has reportedly occupied other buildings in a Fatah dominated area of Gaza City.

My friend Abu Wa'al and
his family have had to leave their home and are sleeping in the school he works at because armed militants are squatting on the roof of their building.

The Aljazeera office in Gaza City is under fire with 30 journalists locked inside it.

Qassams struck Sderot close to the home of Israeli Minister of Defense Amir Peretz and Israel has vowed to retaliate appropriately.

Eeports have been heard that when Israel bombed Hamas headquarters in Rafah, where factional inter-fighting has not yet reached, Fatah members came to their rescue and pulled them out from beneath the rubble.

Hamas has announced a cease-fire to begin at 8pm.

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president has called all parties to hold their fire.

Israeli attack on Rafah Hamas headquarters

This report from AP just minutes ago..

"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli aircraft fired missiles at the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Wednesday, Palestinian officials and the Israeli army said, and Hamas confirmed that one of its security buildings was hit in the strike.

Palestinian rescue officials said several people were buried under rubble after the strike but that their condition was not immediately known. A photographer at the scene said there appeared to be dead.

The Israeli army confirmed its aircraft had fired on southern Gaza, but did not give details. Palestinian security officials said at least three missiles were fired from an Israeli helicopter."

Is Israel choosing sides and sending in reinforcements to cover Fatah? Is Israel trying to spread to chaos from Gaza City to the rest of the Gaza Strip where there has been relative quiet?

First reports coming out now are saying that at least five are left dead and many severely injured.

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.