Jalal We all sat in my brothers room this morning listening to Jalal recount his story. He is one of my brother’s close friends and colleague in the engineering faculty. For the past week my brother had lost touch with Jalal, who’s home lies in the most dangerous neighborhood in Gaza city, al Zaytoun. This neighborhood has been closed off by the Israeli military with earthen barriers, even ambulances aren’t allowed in, while houses are being demolished over the residents’ heads. Tens, if not over a hundred people have already died there, and that’s why my brother was so worried about Jalal, being unable to reach him by phone. Jalal called my brother yesterday evening to tell him he was ok, and came over to see us this morning. Let me tell you a little about this incredible young man.... ...... A taste of destruction. (Published Jan 10) Today we came close to experiencing the destruction and disposition experienced by 15 000 Palestinians in the past 13 days. As we sat down to a dinner made from scratch we heard a loud explosion that seemed to come from right above of our heads. We sprang up and didn’t know what to do. Should we go outside? If the building was being targeted that would be dangerous. In a matter of seconds tempers had flared and we proceeded to argue over the next course of action. Our argument was cut short by a banging on the door and shouts coming from outside “The building has been hit!! Evacuate the building”. It took us a few seconds to gather ourselves, and we immediately sprang to action, gathering small bags containing our official documents, pulling on jackets and shoes, grabbing cell phones and rushing to the door. We made our way downstairs along with the residents of our 14 floor building and ran across the street, gathering in front of the gate to the UNRWA headquarters. Everywhere you looked people hung on to each other, young children stared open eyed and infants wrapped in blankets began to wail. A fight arose between two men from the building and an UNRWA guard. The guard refused peoples request to open the gate and allow them to take cover inside. “If anything happens our children’s blood will be on your hands” screamed the impassioned father. “Go to the UNRWA shelters”, the guard screamed back, there’s one 10 minutes away. 48 people have already been killed in these shelters and we all new that....Thanks FT
Thursday March 15,
Today I had to get up early and get ready for another round with those anti-Egyptian foreign agents who like to call themselves political and human rights activists, Huh!
Since their demonstration was supposed to start around 4pm in Tahrir square we got orders to be there from early noon to be ready to thwart any attempt to start it earlier than that.
I was very excited. For a long time now I have been deprived of the joy of kicking the shit out of these worthless mother f***ers who do nothing but scream slogans full of hate for our great leaders. Unfortunately my excitement didn't last long. When I got to the square I saw to my horror that none of the state security police had their anti-riot equipment on! I was devastated because this meant only one thing; the demonstration will be peacefully put to an end! Why would any sane person do that? Anyway, I can't really question my superiors' decision, they know better.
I stood in Tahrir square for a while talking to other colleagues when we saw one of the officers. I ventured to ask him why the decision was made to end the demonstration peacefully. He told me that this was because there was a lot of foreign media and the government didn't want to be put on the defensive again. "The government has had enough trying to explain to those dumb foreigners who don't mind their own business why it had to deal severely with the bastards." He told me.
We spent the rest of the day and evening doing nothing but hang around the corners of the downtown streets waiting for orders. Other colleagues had more fun. Mohamed, for instance, helped arrest three of the thirty something rats we caught and Mahmoud was able to push and kick some of the demonstrators who wanted to leave the cordoned area.
At around 11 pm we left for home.
God! What a boring day! If this persists I'll go back to being privately hired. Government work is no longer any fun.
Chapter 1: Waiting for Godot.
On a Thursday, trying to get hold of an important government official.
Me: Hello, can I talk to Mr. Fulan
Civil Servant 1: Wait a second please,
Civil Servant 2: hello?
Me: Hello, can I talk to Mr. Fulan?
Civil Servant 2: who wants him?
Me: I'm a journalist and I want to talk to him abt…
Civil Servant 2: then you should call the PR office.
Me: Can I have the number please?
Civil Servant: sure,…
Me: Hello, is the PR office?
PR: Yes, who's speaking?
Me: I'm ESM, a journalist for…. I need to talk to Mr. Fulan about…
PR: Ok, please send us your questions in a fax.
Me: Can I send them on email instead?
PR: Sure, our email is…. Email us and we'll call you back.
After the weekend, on Sunday
PR: Hello, yes?
Me: I'm the journalist from… I've sent the email on Thursday and just wanted to know when I'll get a reply?
PR: Oh, yes! I'll check the computer now and will call you back.
Two days later
Me: Hello, I'm ….., You said you'll call me back, but..um…when will I get an answer for my email?
PR: I'm sorry but the email hasn't reached us!
Me: But I did send it?!!!!!!!!!!!
PR: You sure you sent it to….
PR: Then Can you please email it again!
Me : Ok
PR: Oh, hello
Me: Did you finally get my email?
PR: Can you please call me back in an hour? I'll go check your email now.
Me: ok, thanks.
An Hour Later
PR: Oh, hi
PR: I'm so sorry but I don't know why we didn't get your email… anyway, can you please send us the email again on this address,….?
Me: Ok, I'm emailing it right now.
Me: Hello, Mr…., I'm…
Me: So, when do you think I might get a reply?
PR: hmm, tell you what, why don't you take Mr. Fulan's secretary office number and deal with them directly?
Me: (finally some progress!) Sure.
Spending all day trying to call the secretary whose phone is always busy.
Me: Hello, Miss….
Me: I'm ….. I've been trying to get hold of Mr. Fulan for the past few days,
Secretary: Oh, Yes, I know
Me: (finally somebody who knows what is going on in office!) So when could I get a reply from Mr. Fulan? They are only three short questions?
Secretery: Yes, I know, but Mr. Fulan has been busy so we haven't given him your email yet.
Me: (wtf!!!) Oh! So when do you think he can reply back?
Secretery: Please call me tomorrow.