Home > israel, Palestine, travel > Gaza, my personal processing of the assaults.

Gaza, my personal processing of the assaults.

War: the destruction of lives, communities and hope. The murders continue in Gaza. Friends and reports describe the horror. Homes and hospitals and means of survival for communities targetted by high tech weapons. Ineffective, but still, in my view, immorally aimed at civillians, rocket fire from Gaza is the widely reported response.

Gaza is a strange place. Before I went, in 2003, I had an image of concrete refugee camps. Otherwise supportive Israeli cousins warned me that though I’d been safe in the West Bank, Rafah, in particular, was different and super dangerous for us Jews. In my experience, being in Rafah was dangerous for almost everybody, especially those who happened to be born there, and an American and two Brits, but in lots of ways this Jewish girl was safer there than most places I’ve ever visited!

My first encounter as I entered Gaza for the first time was the Palestinian border agents. This is just having walked through the fortified road that takes you from the exit from Israel part of Erez, with IDF guns pointed at you, and following a heavily militarised “passport control” office, with constant surveillance from yet more soldiers and fear that I’ll accidentally do something to arouse their suspicions. And so, adrenaline unpleasantly adding to the hot, concrete, dusty, tired stimuli, I entered the Gazan passport control.

“Welcome to Gaza” beemed the smiling official. He was probably used to the confusion on internationals faces as we were shocked from our terror-yet-boredom (that weird combination of warzone emotions). After an effortless completion of the bureaucracy, he gave me advice on how to get to Gaza City, and I walked into the Strip.

From the shared taxi to Rafah I learned: Gaza is green! No, not the Hamas flags we are told adorn every home and headband, but leafy gree, field green, grass green, nature green. Gaza City is metropolitan. It has interesting looking shops, hotels, restaurants, fancy looking apartments, modern looking educational and healthcare institutions and parks. There’s a (now unused) checkpoint that divides the Strip into two, controlled by traffic signs, and there’s no forewarning or information once you’re there about how long it will be open or closed. If you are deemed to be crossing it when you shouldn’t, or without three people in your vehicle, you will be fired upon. But the soldiers are completely hidden from view, and its just these red and green traffic lights that let you know what their orders are. There is a never completed fairground with roller coaster by the seaside (Gaza has beautiful Mediteranian beaches) from the optimistic Oslo Accord days. Because Gazan children and teenagers would like to be able to have the same kind of fun as our own do.

To be continued.

Categories: israel, Palestine, travel
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