I don’t know if you’ve picked up on things being a lot worse here than when I left in September. Rocket attacks and resulting injuries have increased this month, as the end-of-six-month-sort-of-truce date came and went last week. Talks are happening with Egypt’s mediation, but everyone is getting more and more anxious.
On a wild and stormy Christmas eve I was reading the following…
“The Israeli foreign minister has indicated that an Israeli military operation in Gaza might be close at hand, as cross-border violence escalates between the two sides. Speaking on Wednesday to supporters of her political party, Kadima, Tzipi Livni said: “Our desire for peace does not replace our responsibility to act when necessary, and now it is necessary….
News agency APTN reported that Israeli security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a large-scale military campaign against Gazan fighters had already been approved but delayed because of difficult winter weather conditions.”
http://english.aljazeera.net/read more here
Collective punishment is never “necessary”.
I wanted to sit down and write you a Christmassy email today, about us all ending up in the local Catholic church last night, and M’s little girls proudly making a Christmas tree especially for us despite their Muslimness.
Instead I am dashing round the flat looking for camera chargers and things in the dark, about to go out and join the other ISMers in Rafah, responding to a rumour that Israel has threatened to “collapse” (bomb? destroy with an incursion?) the Rafah tunnel network that keeps everyone fed, if it’s not closed down in 24 hours. First we heard it was true, then we heard it was false, now it’s moved onto “maybe”. Bear in mind that Israel only lets 12 basic commodities through the Erez border (that’s when they’re in the mood, which they haven’t been much lately) and the UN says it’s not enough to prevent starvation. Unless the siege ends, Gaza folks need these tunnels.
In the shops, there are plenty of vegetables that can be grown here, loads of strawberries which Gaza produces and would love to export, and there’s still chocolate (it’s a luxury of course) but in the last days, people have been queueing for hours for bread. Our flat ran out of gas a few days ago, and there’s no sign of any more. (No more boiled eggs for me, and NO TEA.) M’s wife R still managed to cook us a wonderful meal last night with what is still available, but I don’t underestimate the achievement, or the expense.
And of course, another 24 hours may pass with only a handful of rockets, a handful of deaths, which somehow passes for “normal” here. My visit to Rafah might simply involve lots of visits and friendliness. And everyone will go on, waiting tensely for the next rumour – or the tanks – whichever comes first.