As the foreign press continues to fight for access to the fighting in Gaza, personal blogs offers a glimpse into the dire conditions on the ground. Here’s a collection of excerpts from recently updated blogs from the region. None present a full and complete picture of the situation, but they do reveal scenes of every day life inside a war zone.
The author is based in Bahrain, but she’s publishing dispatches from “Hasan in Rafah,” received by text message, possibly.
January 5: 9.45 pm: “I am carrying my son. five minutes at home and five minutes in the alley outside my home. The red cross warned the people that a house of a Hamas man is a target. Its only 3 metres from my home. The neighbour are carrying some blankets mattresses etc and running with their children in different direction. the kids are shouting. Today they struck 4 houses in Rafah. Apache came first then F16 struck. Apache came and shoot 3 missiles. we are waiting F16”
10.45 pm: “We are ok. But still all of us are in one room but our doors and windows are open. we are still waiting hope nothing is going to happen. I heard that complete families are killed in Gaza [City]. Do you watch aljazeera. We still have no electricity”
Tales to Tell is written by a human-rights worker in Gaza and has pictures and video, with regular updates.
January 9:I covered another ambulance shift Wednesday night, working with two guys who might turn out to be my favourites. S is a sweet EMT driver with good English, very helpful for me, with the ambition to have a baby born in his ambulance since so far he only knows the theory of the process. EB is a dad of three, with a wife who he insists doesn’t mind the idea of him having a second wife at some point. S is scathing about the concept of multiple wives.
EB is happy for me to work as his assistant so that’s pretty cool. I can actually be useful especially when a medic is outnumbered; last night at one point we took on four injured people after a rocket blast near Palestine square, all from the same family home. A little boy with a head wound, two adult men, one with a head wound and the other with a leg wound. A young woman who hadn’t any visible bleeding waited uncomplainingly til last, at which point we found that under her shirt, glass or shrapnel had entered deep beside her spine, so she got sent off for an x-ray on arrival to Al Shifa.
I’d heard word that Hassan was here in Al Quds, but by the time I got here he’d been sent home, which was encouraging in terms of his wound, and certainly good for his family who hadn’t seen him since the strikes began I think. I’ve since glimpsed the footage A took of his shooting, presented on AlJazeerah, so at least it’s got that far, and I had reports of it being on New York TV.
Dr Halid’s house in Khan Younis was destroyed yesterday. So was EB’s. So was Dr Basher’s, and his next door neighbour’s. He showed me the usual photos of rubble, his personal rubble. Three more homeless families taken in by relatives, whose houses also may be under threat. Is anyone’s home going to be left standing?
Akram is a reporter for Britain’s Independent newspaper and he writes plainly and clearly about his family’s experiences.
January 8: Everyone looked relieved and we’re hoping the temporary ceasefire will be repeated. But it’s a sad reminder of the time when Gaza was occupied by Israel before the creation of the Palestinian Authority and we had curfews that the Israelis would lift for two hours so that people could go to the market. Gaza is supposed to be free and unoccupied but in fact Israeli soldiers still have the power to keep us in our homes or let us go to the market.
In any case, the three hours passed quickly. We bought cans of fish, beans, cheese, eggs. I went to see my pregnant wife Alaa who is staying at her mother’s house, and then rushed back at five minutes before 4pm, afraid that heavy bombardment would resume suddenly.
Our biggest need is still for cooking gas. We’re finding ways to adjust; my mother remembered an old brass stove her father used 30 years ago. It’s working well. But the smell of burnt kerosene, mixed with the smell of the food being cooked, and the sound of the burner, leave you thinking we have moved out of the 21st century. Waiting for the tea from this old cooker and holding the laptop in my arm, the two things didn’t seem to go together.
According to the bio on the site, the author is based in Canada but in touch with friends and family in Gaza, and she posts their updates.
January 9: You don’t know anymore; you don’t know who is alive, you feel you are in a trap, you don’t know who is a target” said my friend and neighbour in Gaza city, journalist Taghreed El-Khodary, the fear resonated in her voice, over the phone to Aljazeera. Taghreed lives on the street over from my parent’s.
“Where to? Where can I go seek refuge to?” she continued. “I live next to the parliament which was destroyed; next to the police station, which was destroyed; next to the hospitals, which were bombed; and the Israeli navy is shelling from the sea, the F-16s from the sky, the tanks from the ground…where to?” she repeated again and again.
“First your house shakes, and the windows break, and the fear…the fear. And when you see all these children around you in the hospital. Some can draw-and what they drawing is unbelievable. A six-year old boy in my house drew a picture of boy that was alive, and another that was dead. he said the dead boy was his friend, whom the Israelis killed. And the father is unable to protect his child. And the mothers are trying to hide their fear from their kids.”
A blog written by two friends, a Palestinian and an Israeli, (recently profiled by NPR). The site is supposed to be an exchange of ideas, but, recent updates deal with practical matters, too.
January 7: It is hard to describe what is going on in Gaza, a terrible disaster, where the aircraft do not distinguish between civilians and military and children, no water ,electricity and difficult to get your needs .
We didn’t have electricity since 6 days, and today was the first day to have it, that’s why I have chance to write this quickly.
We have said from the beginning that violence will bring more violence. I hope the world will understand that’s there people want to live safe with dignity and peace .
I hope I will have the chance to write you again.
Zoriah is an independent photojournalist, and although he’s not currently located in Gaza, his blog features some older images that are nonetheless important. This collection of photographs of the Hamas tunnel system is a must-see:
January 8 In August I was granted access to descend into and photograph a Hamas tunnel system, something that few local journalists, much less foreign press are allowed to see or document. Palestinians risk their lives working in the tunnels both for monetary reward and basic survival, so for me it was interesting to document the risks they take in order to dig and operate these tunnels. They have always been a risky operation and many people have lost their lives. Three people died in a tunnel collapse the day before I arrived to shoot this story and the tunnel I was supposed to visit collapsed on my trip down to Rafah from Gaza City.Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.