Days of Catastrophe
I'm in a final dash to pack up my things for my anticpated Monday travel to the U.S. via Cairo and Rafah Crossing, to meet up with Yassine, and that means finishing up as many of the articles I have left as I can.... someone was commenting yesterday how "well we have advanced so much, now at least we can cross Rafah without having to worry about Netzarim checkpoint and Abo Holi..." funny, its all a matter of persepcive I guess...two steps forward...5 steps back! What in any other universe is completely in the realm of the absurd, is all of a sudden an acceptable status quo..to have to travel 8 hour simply to access an airport, while there is one sitting half an hour away.
Tommorow I visit Gaza's "ghost" airport to shoot a photostory for Aljazeera, and after that I must finish up an article on the 55, 000 Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza with no status-waiting for Israeli to grant them family re-unification permits and ID cards for going on 10 years.
In the meantime, the shelling continued to pound Gaza hard today. And the souks have lost their usual Thursday hubub. People feel suffocated. Someone commented to me the other day how they think 90% of Gazans have some form of depression. And if the other 10% dont', they there must be something REALLY wrong with them...
I digress from the topic of what was meant to be a short post, but I just cannot avoid the despair and hopelessness, it is everywhere I look. I saw a man sweeping the street next to us the other night with his children, collecting stray rubbish in a wheelbarrow and disposing of it in a nearby garbage container. I was shocked, and curiosity got the best of me. After going upstairs I headed back down to ask what he was doing-and he casually replied "just something my sons and I like to do every now and again"... that, along with a sign in a public taxi I took today that say, in a crudely written handmade sign, "smoking is not allowed in my taxi!!", made me smile.
So, the point of all this, is to remind of the 58th anniversary of al-Nakba...as Israelis celebrate their "independence" this month, Palestinians commemorate their "days of catasrtophe". Usually this is May 14, but "filisteenyit il-dakhil"..1948 Palestinians, mark it to parallel Israeli Independence Day, when they march to a different ethnically cleansed Palestinian village each year. Thus comes this moving article by my colleague Jonathan Cooke. An excerpt:
"The Palestinian refugee families were joined by 150 Israeli Jews in an annual procession to commemorate the mirror event of Israel's independence called the Nakba (Catastrophe), that drew the overwhelming majority of Palestinians from their homes and out of the new Jewish state.
This year, the families marched to Umm al-Zinat, a Palestinian farming village whose 1500 inhabitants were forced out by advancing Israeli soldiers on May 15, 1948, a few hours after Israel issued its declaration of independence."
58 years...and waiting. A longer Nakba post later inshallah.