Looking for a white dot in the black page - in vain

Gaza diary: "Night and day, day and night. Planes and air strikes, explosions and rockets."

Gaza City // Tuesday was a long day. We woke up in the morning and opened the windows and doors because the weather was sunny and fine. We woke, however, to the sound of a big explosion in the middle of el Zeitoun neighbourhood that hit and destroyed a building. We opened the door to the garden, where everything was covered with grey dust from the previous night's attack on the Al Saraia military building. Everything in the whole neighbourhood was grey: plants, trees, cars and the ground itself.

Afterwards, we spent our time sitting beside the radio, listening to breaking news and waiting for any information about something positive. But we found the opposite. We were sitting around the table, drinking tea and having some sandwiches when one station announced that 13 people had been killed when Israeli tanks hit their house; 13 people, including children, women, and a 72-year-old man. Elsewhere, more than 20 people were lost under a building's destruction.

With such news we started our day. And we all became worried about those people and looking for updates on the family. I kept trying to phone my friends in the neighbourhood, but the telecommunications in all of the Gaza Strip were out of service. No mobiles can connect and no land phones are working. After a while, we gave up. There was no way to contact any person in the neighbourhood. We had lunch, some went to have a nap, but there were so many explosions no one could sleep. Then we got news over the radio that people were obliged to leave their houses in the Beit Lahia governorate in northern Gaza and go to two UNRWA schools. Then the Israeli army destroyed the houses they left. But death went looking for some of these people: Israeli tanks and helicopters attacked the schools.

So this was Tuesday, just listening to bad news and waiting for good news, to see a white dot in the black page that Gaza people are lost in. At night, we also had nothing to do except sit at home in the middle of the living room, far from the windows, looking for a safe place to sit. Thanks to Allah we were not hit and we went to sleep, but even the night was tough and full of air strikes over so many places.

Night and day, day and night. Planes and air strikes, explosions and rockets. Muhammad Abu Shaban, 22, studies English and French literature at Al Azhar University. He is a translator and project manager for the General Union of the Cultural Centres. He lives in Gaza City with his family.

Published: January 8, 2009 04:00 AM

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