hard nights’ sleep

*fresh hit, a street away, seen from balcony of friend’s Jabaliya home, after 8 am January 10

*lights of Israel, beyond Gaza’s electricity-absent nightscape (brightened by blasts)

2:50 am I can’t sleep.

Some mornings I wake up from a new explosion and realize I’ve somehow managed to fall into a sleep despite the blasts.  Other mornings, I wake up disoriented, first wondering where I am, as I’m sleeping in some hospital waiting room or ambulance office, or the house of a driver since the Red Crescent office in eastern Jabaliya was first shelled and then made off-limits by the invading Israeli forces in the eastern Jabaliya region…and the north, the northwest, the east, the south…

Yesterday morning I awoke to an eerie near-quiet: for the time there were no bomb blasts, just those drones continuing to lord the sky.  Then the blasts came.  At 8:38 am I noted “resumption of loud, reverberating explosions.  In the Saraya area again (the former British prison has been hit a number of times already)? 8:59 am: four very loud explosions with deep reverberations.

At 12:15 I’d noted and photographed the white stream of chemical clouds billowing over large expanses of eastern Gaza.  At 1:05 pm:  “Since last night until now, 23 people have been killed, all civilians,” reporter Yousef al Helo told me, adding “This afternoon, two people –including women and children –were killed in a shelling on Beit Lahia.”

Yousef read me Tzipi Livni’s response to the Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire: “Israel has acted and will continue to act according to its calculation in the interest of the security of its citizens and its right to self-defense.”

Yousef and I had discussed the violations of Israel’s unilaterally-imposed 3-hour-ceasefire [which a Lebanese journalist summed up: “How would you like it if I was shooting at you and then told you I’d give you a minute to dance around before I kill you?” ]. John Ging, director of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, sums it up more diplomatically: “For 3 hours, the people of Gaza have some safety.  That’s all it is.” During the first day of the innapropriately-named time period between 1 and 4pm, Israeli forces killed 3 sisters (ages 2, 3, 10), one woman (31), 2 elderly men (60 and 87), and targeted paramedics, shooting one in the leg, as the explosions continued all over the Gaza Strip. At 6 pm, 2 hours after the ‘cease-fire’, the official killing did indeed continue: 5 dead in northern Gaza, returning from the bread lines with a prize bag of bread, bombed in their car, including ages 10, 12, 15, cousin 20, and father 45. And later, after 9pm, another medic shot in the leg while trying to perform his duties.

With the medics last night, we’d arrived at a Sheik Radwan neighbourhood, to the smoking skeleton of a multi-story, multi-family house, evaporated.  Firetrucks were there ahead of us, though we all collectively ran at one point, expecting the 2nd strike that often follows the original destruction.

Later in the night, we kept passing the ruins of buildings bombed in the last days.  I’ve lost track of what was bombed when. We come to a newly-bombed building, a newly-homeless family, the adjacent building facing a like fate soon enough as it appears the structure has been so badly damaged it will soon collapse.

3:20 am: I’ve left the bed and given up on feigning sleep.  Am watching the darkness explode with the political hatred that not only kills but silences truth.  Hatred in every blast pounding Gaza.

“They will not finish. Until the martyrs reach 1,000,” the nurse predicts, taking a break on his night shift. “They want to make Gaza into Guantanamo,” he goes on. “All of this will not break the Palestinian people.”

In the hospital room where I tried to sleep between an ambulance shift and morning obligations, the tank shelling and firing is in the room, landing on my pillow.

It’s the shells, which crack and blast. The staccato gunfire. The drones’ whine, in menacing pitches. The fighter plane’s sudden, thundering presence.

The drone ramps up the decibels, a train wreck of disharmony.

And the inevitable whoosh before the explosion, an F-16 launch which erupts a crater where someone’s house, or a market, or a mosque once stood. The blast an hour ago was a market, another nurse tells me. “It was a beautiful market, sold everything, everything we need,” she says.

Hours later, after the sun finally rises. Women are walking onto the hospital premises, large towel-covered platters on their heads. A small electric stove is plugged in, and they take turns baking bread for their families: no gas, no electricity at home. They are lucky to have the flour to bake with, and I guess that a trickle of that aid that only trickles in has reached them. But it’s never enough.

The shelling continuing, I get to see Osama, who I’ve not seen for weeks, although he lives near the hospital where I spend much time. His family, like most, have taken all the windows out of their house (those not already blown out), and the house is frigid with cold. We talk, ask the same questions that everyone is asking every day, about when it will end, why it must be so, what value a Palestinian life has…

A new series of explosions, we go out to see, the latest just a couple of streets away, but that’s nothing. Osama’s family live in front of a house slated for attack at any time. “What can we do?” they ask, everyone asks.


  1. Thousands demonstrated in London, Edinburgh, Athens and around the world today against the bombing and killing in Gaza. The people are in solidarity with their Palestianian brothers and sisters. Take care and keep safe Eva…..

  2. continued thanks. i have been putting some of your postings on my facebook page. ranting somewhat in my status line… still writing our “leadership” with little hope of change, i’m sorry to say. i wrote speaker nancy pelosi yesterday only to have my email returned as “undeliverable.” these attempts feel like such lame and limited ways of helping, but it is all i know to do right now. be safe, and please tell gazans that they (and you) are in the constant thoughts of so many of us. that there are people worldwide in solidarity with them, who are disgusted at the racism and ignorance that seems rampant in our leaders. (big sigh). in peace…

  3. Dearest Eva, So happy to see you are OK. Our young Canadian friend heard about the ambulance attack and was worried about you so I phoned your Mum. She’d been trying to get through to you on the phone and it wasn’t going through. But she had just spoken to someone who had just spoken to you on the phone – so she was very happy. She’s as tough as you are🙂 I really like her. She was on her way out for a walk in our snowy weather when I called. Our young friend starts a good job on Monday, thinks he did well on the TOEFL and just loves you. Thank you. Sounds silly, but please be safe. You are in our thoughts and prayers and make us feel uplifted. I wish it could be more but please tell all in Gaza we’re doing all we can here to lobby the government and inform the public and demand a ceasefire. We can never thank you enough for what you are doing in Gaza and through your blog. Love, Susan xoxo

  4. Dearest Eva, I cry and feel nauseaous reading your blog, so how must the people of Gaza and you feel. I can’t imagine. I forgot to tell you and I hate to tell you but you probably already know. The cousin of our young friend was shot by an Israeli sniper today. She is the best friend of his sister. She was just standing in the kitchen. She’s only 21. Quiet and a student at the University. Her heart is still working but her brain is not. He needs to gather his courage to phone her family for fear of the state her mother must be in. 800 or more now. My mind can’t comprehend it. I’m so sorry you have to see this suffering in your young life but truly we admire you for your determination and the work you and others are doing. Again, love, Susan.

  5. Your friend Jenn told me about your “blog”. I have forwarded the url to 3 Toronto papers and AI Canada. I will also send it to my MP. If I had half your guts I’d consider myself to be a pretty macho guy. A bit of the Palestinian side gets in, but the pro-Israeli filter in our media is strong. We did get about 2-3000 people demonstrating against Israel in front of their consulate today.

  6. Our prayers for all the people in Gaza and our hearts go out for you all. Israel is doing to Gaza what it did to Palestinians in 1948. People live in refugee camps in Gaza where living in Hifa, Ashkelon, Yafa when the Zionist attacked them and expelled them from their homes, and now the grandsons of those Zionist and following the footsteps of their grandfather in attacking the Palestinians in Gaza after they denied their access to food and medical aids by the blockade.

    Thank you Eva for your courage, thank you for letting us know what is going on in Gaza as the media is filtering out anything related the genocide there.

    I’ve added this story to the ireport: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-178932

  7. good luck there, eva!
    i’m a journalist and i’d like to get in contact. could you send me an email? thanks,

  8. Dear One…please keep safe. You are a divine light to witness what’s on the ground. We are grateful. We are protesting here in the UK, signing petitions and sending money to the solidarity movement. I am praying for all of you. Love, Amber

  9. thankyou again and again for bringing out the truth , you and your friends are angels sent to help the Gazans, keep safe , the brutish soldiers will not succeed , we are constantly hearing that the israelis are only targetting Hamas fighters , so far have you seen any ?perhaps that little old lady was a hamas fighter?

  10. It must be hard living there right, on an isolated area. I hope this will end soon, to many innocent people have died. This is terrible. I wish i could help somehow, i really wish…

    All i can do is demostrate and hope to god that this will end any sooner.

    I hope you’re okey, you are a brave person.

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