Friday, June 30, 2006

The Armored Car

The beast of war, live in Gaza

Rafah Live

Israeli Tanks and troops are just over the hill, about a km away . Just a reason to try and be a little cautious

Football Militants and the war

Football and Militants

I have not blogged for a few days now because of the minor fact that basically Gaza and Israel have gone to war. Well almost, things also depend on the Football World Cup.

In a simple nutshell it goes like this and it is so simple that anyone should be able to grasp these facts. Hamas and PRC (Peoples Resistance Committee – what a great Monty Pythonesque name) dig a tunnel into Gaza kidnap a 19 year-old-soldier, take him back into Gaza and taunt Israel saying we have him and aren’t we smart and here are our demands. Israel gives them a day or so to get their collective IQ’s together and to allow Palestinian leaders a chance to say to the militants “Give him back”. Also the second round games are still being played n Germany.

Militants say to there leadership, who cares what you say or think. Now remember it is Hamas Militants saying to their own leadership we do not care what you say or do, as you are pathetic and weak, we the militants control the Strip now.

Israel sits back and after the final second round game of the World Cup ends up around Midnight, they get up turn off their TV’s and launch the wrath of the Military on Gaza. The timing was just to bizarre to go un noticed, the final whistle of the France v Spain game had just sounded and ten minutes later jets are screaming overhead, bombing bridges and Power Stations, destroying millions of dollars of infrastructure.

Artillery shells bombard the Northern death Zone day and night, Jets fly overhead breaking the sound barrier and creating sonic booms that make buildings shake and shudder for the last two nights making sleeping impossible. Lucky there is a break in the World Cup schedule to allow for war to commence.

As I write last ditch efforts are being made to broker a diplomatic break through and release the young soldier, if not then a full on invasion and occupation of Gaza in inevitable in the next few days. And what is left of society here will crumble.

There have been so many stories over the last few days that I will do a completely separate entry that covers the bizarre and sad life here.

But the over riding thought at the moment is “What the hell are the Militants thinking” and that by their actions hundreds of thousands people are going to be driven into a life that by any standards cannot get any worse and yet they refuse to see that the actions of a few are going to destroy their own state.

Israel is not in anyway to blame for the current crisis they simply want their soldier back, and if they do not get him back then Armageddon is coming. When - it will probably depend on what time the first quarter final of the World Cup finishes tonight.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Traffic Problems

Lunchtime in Gaza City . The sounds echoed up 14 floors to the office, shouts and you always hesitate for the gunfire before opening the windows for obvious reasons. The local Islamic Jihad had decided to just form up and march down the main road in formation , why no one ever knows they just like to show force and traffic well that waits behind the march. Would you honk your horn to try and get through them.
Gaza City

Sunset on the beach, from the Beach Hotel

Where we stay in Gaza is the aptly named "The Beach Hotel" forget anything about the book by Alex Garland or the movie with Leonard De Capprio, and the chances of the all girl group "All Saints" singing here "Pure Shores" are non existant.

The Beach Hotel naturally overlooks the beach, but before you conjure up images of Bondi Beach or Baywatch with Pamela Anderson running in slo motion down golden sands let us establish one thing this is Gaza.

The Beach could double for a rubbish tip anywhere else, I doubt that there has ever been a clean up program on the sands here rather a high tide either drags waste back out to sea or pushes it up to the high tide mark, I should also add that Gaza has no effective sewerage system so lets not kid ourselves where the waste of 1.4 million people ends up. Everytime I have the temptation to go for a swim I remember that one fact and figure that a relaxing dip in the sea is not worth an ear or eye infection.

Correspondant Jonathan Hunt and I are covering the events down here over the weekend shift and actually managed to get out of the office before sunset, and if anything so far on this trip I wanted to try and eat my meal when I could actually see the meal, I always have a grilled fish whole and more often than not it is good luck and not good fish eating skills that allows me to avoid the fish bones.

It was also the chance to look at life on the beach here and how families can relax in the atmosphere that exists here.

The first thing that is clear is that there are no swim suits, men wear work shorts and the woman ... They wear traditional full length Palestinian dress complete with head dress , not a full habiya (as in Saudi Arabia, where only the eyes are visible) but a head scarf that is traditional islamic dress. The woman play at the waters edge and as the sun goes down more of them venture out into the water.

It gives you a reflection that this is a serious traditional society and values of modesty are taken serious, there is no skin showing on any female anywhere on the beach.

The males play with males only, no young people sit in groups and talk, everything is segregated and only families are visible.

For many Gaza residents the beach is the only place to relax.

Two weeks ago a family of 8 died on a beach down here in Gaza an artlllery shell exploded, Israel denies firing a shell onto the beach and blames a mine planted by Hamas for the deaths.

They were just a family having a day out on the beach, like all the other families we sat and watched last night

Gaza City

Friday, June 23, 2006

Live from the Beach Camp

Live from the Beach Camp. Correspondant Jonathan Hunt and I
Gaza City

Electricity is asleep

Friday 23rd June 2006
Gaza City

How does electricity go to sleep, well according to Arafat, not the deceased former President of the Palestinian People, but Arafat my friend at the Beach Hotel, who seems to work 24 hours a day, as a waiter, overnight clerk, room service and TV fixer. The local electricity grid was off line, I only asked this as I was washing yesterdays spit and saliva from the car this morning in the hotel car park and the hotels generator was running, well running is a polite way of saying it sounded like a locomotive was winding up in the corner of the car park.

Arafat had come out to watch me do my morning vehicular ablutions, and I had asked him why was the generator running, with a great stone look on his face "Electricity is asleep"

He continued to watch me washing the car before the noise became to much for him and he went back inside the hotel.

Just another morning in Gaza, another reason to smile.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Life in a picture

Just so that people can see there is a border here, Jonathan & I dropped Ibrahim off as he escaped back to Israel this morning . For Jonathan & I the sentance continues down in Gaza for the next few days

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Jablayia Mayhem & Insanity

Gaza City
June 20th 2006

It may seem like I am hard on the residents of Gaza at time, especially the crowds and boys in particular. But events as they unfolded last night can only add to my dislike of the mob mentality that morphs itself into reality.

How do you write without sounding bitter after being spat upon, hit with a stick, had your vehicle attacked, every door opened as the mob tried to steal anything they could if they had a chance. All whilst trying to go live to show the world the results of an Israeli Air strike in the crowded streets they live in.

Three small children were killed and more injured after the Israelis fired a missile into a car that was carrying militants, the militants escaped all uninjured not the children in the streets they were simply playing in the streets and became the latest victims of this conflict.

The mob surrounding us got to be in excess of 400, ranging in ages from around 5 to 20, some adults tried to help us by keeping the mob back but it was in vain. I managed to get a camera up and a signal to NY but to add misery to a situation that worsening by the minute as dusk approached, New York were not even interested in taking us live.

It was at that moment we had no other option but to get out and fast, it was a matter of just throwing everything into the backseat, camera and tripod anywhere, cables all over the front seats, “just get the fuck in” was my only comment, the car was being slapped and pelted. It was only a matter on minutes before we would have been hemmed in and in serious trouble.

It is essential that as you try to get out you do not injure or run over anyone, because if you do you are truly fucked big time. Ibrahim and Neal managed to get us out by running the shotgun screaming in Arabic we were out , I slowed down to only allow Ibrahim to get in the car on the move, not even slowing down as the mob continued to kept at the car.

To reflect back, when the next air strike happens and Palestinians wonder why no one covers the injustice at what is happening to them. They only have themselves to thank for no coverage.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Black Hole

Gaza City
June 19, 2006

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.
: Exodus (ch. X, v. 21)

I am not one to quote the bible, my beliefs are very personal and those who know me realize this. But there comes a time when you need an inspiration to begin to describe the events and surroundings you can find yourself in covering this unfolding story in Gaza.

Have you ever been somewhere so dark, so pitch black, blackness that envelopes you completely to which there is no beginning and no ending. A place where you feel like you are seeing by being present because your eyes and brain cannot fathom the scenario you are entering.

This is why the quote from the bible is so apt, because the “darkness over the land of Egypt” in those days included Gaza and for the first time in my life I felt darkness. Not of the spirit or the soul, but in real time in real life.

Last night we had to race to another reported air strike by the Israelis deep into Jabaliya Refugee Camp to the north of Gaza City. Mike Tobin (Correspondent) Ibrahim Hazboun (Producer) & Neal Ghabboun (Gaza Producer) & I scrambled in the true sense knocking over the table in the Coffee Shop where we had been watching the World Cup match between Brazil & Australia.

Gaza City is not like the Beirut of the 80’s, even though some days it appears to be. The main street at 9pm has a buzz, be it somewhat depressed with the growth of Islam and traditional aspects of Arab culture that take root ever stronger with each day. The shops have gaudy neon lights that reflect in puddles when it rains, car headlights work in a majority of cars and of course the red traffic light is merely a suggestion rather than a reason to stop.

Jabaliya is a Hamas power base a scrawling suburb of grinding poverty where the Imam rules with the authority of a 14th Century Ottoman Emperor, Palestinian Police would only enter in extreme circumstances and the Hamas Militia stand on street corners entering the suburb. In daylight it can be an unpleasant place, at night it takes on new dimensions as a place you only enter if you really have too.

We drove on and into Jabaliya, all we knew were sketchy reports that a car had exploded, in such cases you start from the premise, that

1. The Car was carrying Militia about to launch missiles into Israel
2. Israel Intelligence had identified the car
3. A pre-emptive air strike had been ordered before the Militia could carry out their mission.
4. The strike was successful and the scene would be a chaotic mess with a burnt out destroyed car, in charred ruins
5. The area would be crawling with boys of all ages whose sole intention is to aggravate and annoy you to get a response to which gives them cause to attack you. Such is the power of boredom and oppression.

What struck as all was that the further we drove into Jabaliya, was that all light was behind us. In front of us a curtain of black was descending, buildings that were six feet to the side of the alleys seemed not to exist, my headlights only seemed to light the road ahead, it was if the beams were being squeezed as to expose nothing.

As my car is armored you cannot wind down the windows, so inside the cocoon the silence is deafened and at times all I could hear was the breathing of the others. We all took solace in talking out loud that we could not see a thing.

The headlights would catch the ghosts of people walking the streets, almost like zombies the light would catch a shadow for a second and then disappear. In the dust of the streets a donkey pulling a cart of sorrowed souls came towards us, disappearing as fast as it came into the lights.

Like children hiding under the blankets from the bogeyman only to be told that he does not exist, we kept driving deeper and further into the zone. It felt like miles between small shops with an old 60-watt globe hanging from a doorway. At each one we would stop open the door and Ibrahim and Neal would ask the directions to the attack.

To people here it is quite normal for a car full of strangers with a car taped up with TV on the windscreen, side windows and back window to pull up and ask directions to the latest missile strike. And at each stop the instructions were the same, in deeper and deeper – straight ahead, left, right it did not seem to matter.

The road seemed to end and over a rise a smattering of headlights blinded me as they drove towards me, fire truck leaving, an ambulance with no lights flashing. Down a small hill the scene was not one of the chaos and outrage that you normally come across after an Israeli attack. Approaching closer the boys encircled the car and my headlights caught the charred ruins of a burnt out car.

Ibrahim told Mike and I to hold tight and not get out of the car, he and Neal would find out what happened. And they disappeared into the darkness, that all of a sudden to become oppressive again as the crowding boys blocked what light was coming from the headlights. The tapping at the windows stared, the forcing of the car door locks being rattled and ghostly faces starred in whilst hands slapped again and again on the windows.

In these times you are potentially at the mercy of the mob and getting out without causing any trouble seemed far more important than the destroyed car in front of us. There was no way Mike or I could of gotten out and worked here, even if we wanted too. The live shot if required would be done inside the vehicle using the technology we had built in for such situations.

Ibrahim and Neal appeared again and simply said, “Lets go now” and with guile and tact they parted the crowd and we turned around and drove back into the darkness.

The whole thing had been a waste of time, there had been no air strike, no militants killed or martyred. A car had been carrying Natural Gas Tanks used for cooking (Like a BBQ gas bottle), gas being a commodity that is hard to get here in the current situation. A feud between two men had grown to the natural conclusion here in Gaza and gunshots had replaced dialogue. A bullet had obviously hit a gas bottle and the result, well try explaining how your car is totally destroyed burnt out and has bullet holes to your Insurance Company.

All was that was left was to get out, as a Chinese proverb states, “It is better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness”. At each corner another candle seemed to be lit and guide us back to the bright lights of Gaza and life.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Turn the Corner in a Warzone


June 17, 2006

Ambulance sirens echo across the rooftops could be anything but their sound is a chilling reminder of daily life here. Gaza is not a safe place; it can lure you into thinking that life has a semblance of normality. Nothing down here is logical; the people realize that hell has a new address and that the postal code match.

In almost all war zones I have been too, you can almost always turn a corner and find a normality of life that is acceptable, turn another corner and anarchy and chaos wrack the streets.

It was that way this morning, Ibrahim Hazboun, Fox News Producer has to go back to Israel every third day to renew his permit that allows anyone with an Israeli ID to be in Gaza. A cursed and frustrating process because in reality it is not even three days, When you renew your permit on Day 3, the next three days actually starts on the same day, thus Israeli calendars have managed to turn three days into two days, yet another way to make things harder for us to work in Gaza.

The last time Ibrahim went out to the border his taxi had a bullet hole in the windshield, and so last night we discussed this and agreed that the armored car is the only thing we should be driving around town in, And that since I am the only one officially permitted to drive the hard car, I would run him out and wait for him to do his visa run.

Which brings me back to the original point, turn a corner here and the world can change in an instant.

The road ahead was clouded with a pall of thick smoke rising, dumpsters had been overturned and set on fire, a couple of old car tires had also been set alight to add to the mix, and there was flurry of figures thru the smoke. This is on the main road in Gaza, not on a side street in the mean part of town.

Your heart always beats quicker as you approach a scene like this, because it is the unknown. You do not know what has happened or why, all you see is the slo motion of chaos and anarchy. Ahead of us was a cement truck moving also towards the intersection and it turned off into a vacant lot to skirt the scene and we followed, missing the crossing by a hundred meters or so. Lumbering along sand tracks we slowly moved past and after a couple of minutes turned back onto the road and out to the border with Israel.

The thing Ibrahim commented on was that yesterday this intersection had been crawling with Hamas Militants standing guard fully armed, today with the troubles it had been void of any security.

I waited for nearly an hour at the border, remaining with the armored car on the Palestinian side, whilst Ibrahim went and renewed his Gaza Permit with the Israeli authorities, doing the walk of shame up and back the tunnel that connects Israel with Gaza.

Ashraf, is a local taxi driver I have come to know over my visits down here for four years and whilst I waited for Ibrahim, he explained that the feud down the road was a payback killing, Fatah had whacked a Hamas member the night before somewhere in Gaza and so in true mob style, Hamas whacked a Fatah member near the burning intersection on the main road, and as a result the local Fatah supporters had decided to set fire to dumpsters and tires. Makes sense … No but then again this is Gaza.

This explained why the Hamas Militia was not stationed at the intersection anymore; they would have just been sitting ducks for a sniper or a drive by shooting.

We drove back down the road and cars waved at us to follow them thru the back lanes again, it was still not safe to drive down the main road, as we crossed the road above the smoke had cleared, but more boys were out gathering stones and rocks, and hassling cars as we tried to get back onto the road.

I was resigned to the fact that I could be up for panel work, in the vacant lot we were stopped in traffic and the one thing I have learnt over the years is that it is often best to avoid eye contact at times when surrounded and out numbered, whether they are ten or forty armed with rocks or guns the principal is the same. If anyone sees fear or doubt they will use this as a weapon, seeing blank the aggressor loses their advantage.

We finally drove on and left the chaos of the morning behind us, just to prove the point in any danger zone, turn the corner and the world can change.

Gaza City

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Code of the Road

This entry has been written, but will not be published for the time. The Code and ethics of the road was broken. That is all that needs to be said
Gaza City

Friday, June 16, 2006

The one with the long title

A Man his donkey, Hamas Militia, A small obnoxious boy and Mike Tobin.

A rather long title for a story, not exactly what sub editors would accept but then again introduce four characters in a title and somehow you try to figure out what they all have in common.

We had to do a live shot from the streets of Gaza, late yesterday afternoon and the Eli Fastman the Fox News Bureau Chief back in Jerusalem wanted to see Hamas Militia in the streets in the background. Well given the current state of affairs here in Gaza finding Militia on a street corner is as difficult as finding a drive thru Mc Donald’s in Texas.

We headed out towards the so called No Go Death Zone that the Israelis have declared in Northern Gaza, and just before you enter this delightfully named area on the main road is a large on Mosque, the Hamas Militia were relaxing in the shade and when Nael our local fixer asked if it would be possible to go live from here, the response was a proud yes. Just like any military in the world the foot soldiers love being on TV.

I remember how during the Kosovo War, SKY News would contact the British troops there and get them to come around to their house and place them on street corners so that they would be in exactly the right position behind the correspondent during the live shot. Then they would give each of the soldiers in the background a satellite phone so that they could call home to let their families know that it was them behind the correspondent.

We try to avoid such staged “Geraldo’s” as they are known. In deference to Geraldo Rivera a US reporter with the ego that defies words, who would in such cases actually get anyone with a gun to crowd around him and brandish them in the air during his live shots, whilst he explains the danger he is in.

My armored car has a built in system that allows for videophone transmission from the vehicle, so we parked on the corner and proceed to set the shot up. Now as I have explained on may occasions, a TV camera in Gaza is to small boys a magnet that means they can come out and be to put it bluntly as rude and as obnoxious as a drunk sports fan staggering out of a play off game their team has won. Only they have numbers on their side here.

After about ten minutes these two boys, one so fat that his family is obviously not suffering from any economic hardships the rest of the people are experiencing in Gaza and his mate, whom I will call “Bluey” only because he wore a blue shirt. Decided that they would try and ruin our live shot, as they had nothing else to do.

Just to the right of our camera on a vacant lot, where the rest of the children were just standing around watching and causing no problem. Was a donkey tied to a cart. Gaza is close to the donkey capital of the world, if New York is a sea of yellow cabs then Gaza is awash with donkey carts on the streets.

Thus Bluey and his Jenny Craig reject friend, decided that they would try to get the donkey to run dragging his cart thru the back of our live shot and set about their task. Now enter the Hamas Militia who could see their chance of being on TV diminish with the efforts of Bluey and Jenny’s handiwork. So over they come and grabbing Bluey by the scruff of his neck drag him away, to give Bluey his credit he was giving them lip, but the bearded men with AK47’s, wanted their minutes of famed not to be ruined by his antics and frog marched him away to the other side of the lot. Jenny by this stage had run out of steam and had headed home to yet another plate of humus, a chickpea dish not to be confused with Hamas.

Now enter the donkey owner who after hearing the plans of Bluey and Jenny went ballistic in more than the sense of the world, storming onto the vacant lot to protect his beloved donkey. he did what any sensible Palestinian donkey owner would do, he gave Bluey a solid slap to the face, Bluey ran a few steps away and then did what five years of Intifada Darwinian evolution causes any Gazan boy to do he picked up a stone and hurled it at the donkey owner from that moment on the scene descended into mayhem, donkey owner picks up bigger stones and proceeds to throw them at Bluey, Like a pagan Gazan ritual a good old fashioned stone fight was happening to the side of our live shot

The whole time Mike stood there going over his script trying hard not to be distracted, I just stood there watching trying to figure out what was going to happen next.

New York gave Mike the cue and two minutes later we were cleared and finished, Hamas Militants were happy in the background and as we packed up. Bluey and the donkey owner were still trading insults.

Even a routine live shot in Gaza can involve a sense of comic opera at times, if you tried to write a Hollywood script you would never be able to capture “Bluey’s” Dennis the Menace character or that of the outraged donkey owner, it was more like a scene from a black and white 1950’s Egyptian comedy.

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 .

The Cycle of Violence

June 14 2006

At least I have not heard shelling so far today, but then again it is only six minutes past midnight.

You can reach a point where it does not matter who does what to whom, where the cycle of violence in this conflict no longer has a beginning or an end.

Last Friday a bomb went off on a beach here in Gaza killing a family of seven, the only image anyone will remember is the daughter collapsing and screaming on the sand next to her dead father. The Palestinians claim the shell was fired by Israel, the Israelis in return have claimed that it was from a landmine planted by militants to prevent an Israeli commando invasion. No one will ever know or admit to truth, the people will claim the high and mighty from both sides and blame each other. And wonder why the world has stopped caring, if just for once someone will admit the truth then peace stands a chance.

The world screams for justice for the events in Haditha Iraq, and the actions of the US Marines demanding heads and accountability, but here it is OK to lie and no one will ever face a court and pay for there war crimes. Lying is so endemic that it could pass for an Olympic sport around here.

The Military wing of Hamas, has now announced that the ceasefire from them is over and everything is once again a legitimate target, read this as attacks against Israel will commence and soon.

Israel responded yesterday by launching a missile strike targeting Islamic Jihad members driving along a main road, The first missile struck a wall next to the car carrying the militants and killed one or two of the militants, again counting to two is something that causing everyone to be mathematically challenged.

To rub salt in the wounds of the Israelis who actually missed their target the militants are seen carrying the kytusah rockets away from the scene in the aerial video supplied by the IDF.

Here crowding around the site of an attack is like rubber necking as you drive past a car accident. Only the crowds can swell to hundreds in minutes, and guess what a second missile comes flying in, End result nine civilians are killed and countless are injured as they stand around the wreckage from the first strike.

Just another day in Gaza, 11 dead and the hospital is crowded with injured and maimed, I doubt anyone will care in Israel, yet when the inevitable reprisal attacks happens and nine innocent Israeli civilians die they will demand a fast and dramatic military operation against the Palestinians, and so the circle of death continues.

Israel has turned Gaza into one big prison, and the inmates (all 1.2 million of them) are being forced into riot mode, the jailers need to be careful.

We drove back to the hotel at 3am, the streets were pitch black and empty that is except for the Palestinian Gunmen on each and every corner fully armed, I did not even bother to ask Ibrahim our Producer whether they were Palestinian Security Forces, Hamas Militants, Fatah Militants or even Islamic Jihad Militants on the pitch black streets of Gaza at three in the morning I thought to my myself, just when you think things cannot get any worse in this conflict both parties manage to take two steps backwards.

As a long time Mid East Correspondent who has since left, once commented on the whole conflict and politics of the region, do not hate either side, just despise them both equally.