All and all, I have it pretty easy here. My hotel has a generator that runs 24-7, while most Gazans have electricity only a few hours a day, if that. The IDF bombed the main power station a few weeks ago, and it looks like it might take years to fix. My hotel even has wireless Internet and hasn't yet run out of food, which is served on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. (Gaza has the sweetest strawberries in the world.) More important, I can leave whenever I want to, something most Palestinians can't do. If I decide that I want to see the opening night of my boyfriend's play, or catch a Red Sox game or attend my mother's 60th birthday party at a Connecticut casino, I can.
But most of the time, I'm happy to stay. The nights are not as much fun as they were before the foreign press corps picked up and left en masse for Lebanon and Haifa, but I enjoy my days more now that the streets are not clogged with other reporters. Although international attention has shifted to Lebanon, the violence here continues unabated, so there's plenty to do. And the Gazans generally treat me with warmth and courtesy. They see the foreign press as a lifeline—a chance to tell the world their story. Almost everybody believes that the world will listen.
I have my doubts. Polaris, my agency, sends me plenty of e-mails reassuring me that my pictures are not being sent out into a void, but the outside world doesn't seem all that interested in making the shelling stop. My politics are pretty simple. Killing people is bad. Killing civilians is worse. Killing children is an obscenity—whether it's the Katyusha rockets that killed two kids playing in their yard in Nazareth or the 6-year-old girl killed in her house in Shajiya. But no one in charge of this conflict has much to gain by stopping it. With each new atrocity, the extremists on both sides gain greater strength. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has never been more popular in Israel, and Palestinians are hunkering down behind Hamas.
I asked one of my best friends, a local AP photographer, how he was doing and he said, "Work is good. The situation is kharra (shit)." That pretty much sums up life here. It's the essential contradiction of what I do. If my kid were killed, I wouldn't want some grimy little snapper sticking her lens in my face, but I do that to people every day. I don't beat myself up for it, either. I'm here to work, not to watch or to hold their hand and experience their pain. And it's my job to show that the shelling leaves real people, crying real tears, over their really dead sons and daughters. ﹝http://www.slate.com/id/2146770/﹞
LEBANON-LIBERIA: LEBANON-LIBERIA: Lebanon Diary, Part VI
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
BEIRUT, 30 July (IRIN) - Saide Chaar and 22 other Liberians and
Lebanese-Liberians have been seeking a way out of Beirut for more than two
weeks. They are among about 50 Liberians trapped in the besieged city.
Liberia has no embassy in Lebanon to evacuate them.
Chaar, 25, and his family were evicted from the one-bedroom apartment
they were staying in because the landlord said there were too many
people staying there. They have found another one-bedroom flat but the
landlord there is also urging them to move on.
IRIN has been documenting the plight of Chaar and his family through
daily phone conversations that are published in narrative form. IRIN
spoke with Chaar's fiancˍ, Marcelle Bedran, 19, on Sunday and compiled Part
6 of an ongoing diary of life in besieged Beirut.
30 July 2006 - We're just stressed out today. The situation, we don't
know what to think anymore. Things are getting worse by the hour.
Today we got news that protesters in Beirut broke into the UN office.
And the air strike in Qana this morning where the civilians died - it
was disgusting. The most surprising thing is even the ones in the
basement underground got killed and most of them were women and children. It
was so heartbreaking to see them taking the babies out, the little
children. It was sickening.
Right now everybody is so tense in the house. Everybody is arguing.
Some people want to go back home but the city is not safe.
The roads are risky. You just see the war tanks. It's just strange when
you live in a city and all of a sudden you see war tanks going by,
soldiers passing by. And the guns in their hands look so scary, even if
they're not talking to you.
Israel is so full of surprises; you never know what is going to happen
next. It's like we're just sitting on eggs waiting for them to crack or
waiting for them to hatch.
The city is dead. The only area you can see civilians is where we are
now in the eastern side of the city. Everybody left their houses in a
rush and we didn't get our clothes and things. We tried to get back to
the houses but we couldn't make it. We just turned around and came back.
The road was terrifying. Because we are foreigners they will just see
you and pick on you. If you appear Lebanese they won't do anything to
you. But if they see a little bit of colour they try to take advantage of
First of all they'll ask you for your documents. They'll just try to
find any little mistake. They'll just waste your time and ask you one and
a million questions - stupid questions that don't have stupid answers
even. Sometimes they'll ask you to come down to the station to verify
your documents. Then you have to wait for hours and you'll see 30 to 40
people just waiting and then they'll just tell you, you can leave.
The landlord came last night. He asked when we are leaving, why we had
not left yet. We told him that it was because we had not found anywhere
to go yet and that he should please be patient with us. He's being
very impatient and being very aggressive, especially because we are not
What he's doing then this week is he's cutting the water. (Then) we
cannot wash dishes, we cannot take a shower, we have to take buckets
through other people's houses to take water.
I am in university. I paid around 1,800 dollars, a whole down-payment,
for the whole summer. That's all gone in vain. That is my biggest loss
right now. I feel very bad about it because we had been attending for
three weeks only and then this war broke out. The universities are going
to take a very long time to open. Everybody is leaving the country.
They won't have enough students to start. I was doing social work,
psychology and sociology.
(Tomorrow) as soon as we get up, like 6, we have to go look for help
somewhere. We have to get up and be on our feet to see what we can do. We
don't know what to do. Because they closed the border between Lebanon
and Syria our only chance is by ship. We're going to try and keep
praying that God opens our way.