Friday, June 16, 2006

95% Waiting

June 15 2006

Gaza City

It is hard to explain to even the most sane and rationale person, that News is often 95% waiting and 5% of incredible intensity.

Yesterday was one of those days. At the moment we are just sitting and waiting in Gaza, waiting for something to happen, it could happen as I type the next word, or in the next hour or maybe later. Or nothing can happen, and when nothing happens there is no News to cover. So we sit and wait.

Yesterday we drew the second shift, which means we cover from Noon Eastern through to Seven Pm Eastern (New York Time) which here translates from 6 PM to 2 AM, given that you cannot go out and just walk the streets in Gaza and aimlessly window shop, there are no malls or shopping centres to speak of, there is no cinema to catch an afternoon movie, no gym to go and work out in. There is honestly nothing to do in Gaza.

We sit around in the hotel just trying to kill time till we go into the office, we have a small office on the 14th floor of a building in the middle of the city. The elevator is so dodgy that even the alarm button is mis-spelt and reads “alram”, it often takes five minutes to go up and down and even four people inside is a tight squeeze. Naturally it starts each journey with a three inch drop just so that you know it is in control and gives you the chance to say a prayer before it commences the slow journey up.

In past times in Gaza you could go for a run in the morning or walk the streets looking at shops that sell nothing of interest, but the threat and danger of kidnapping of Westerners has stopped that of recent. So we simply go from hotel to office, office to hotel. If we have to go to the shops we never go alone and since I was assaulted waiting for the lift a couple of months ago, a punk kid tried to steal my phone my only luck was that I am bigger than he was and I could see that he did not have a gun. I never go anywhere alone anymore.

Our only excitement yesterday was the return to Gaza of a Hamas leader, who is now the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Government returning with rumours that he had bought back with him 20 million dollars cash over the Rafah border crossing from Egypt. We rushed around to his house hoping to catch him, when we arrived there was nothing happening so rather than logically get the gear out and ……….

12.44 pm Gaza City Office

At that point I was sitting in the Hotel typing when outside the window sitting up in the air, was an Israeli Apache Chopper, just hovering ready to target. It was a signal to scramble to the office. To add to the moment we had all just received a text message on our phones that Qassam rockets had been fired from Gaza into Sederot a small town in Israel near Gaza. All the signs were there for a missile attack. One thing you learn about the IDF is that they only strike back at a time when it suits them and it could be anytime. Now we wait in the office.

End of Day Wrap – No Strikes No Attacks , the only gunfire was from an enthusiastic wedding party who paraded up and down the main street firing into the air , what goes up must come down one of these days this basic gun safety 101 lesson will be shown on TV here .

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