Stories from Afar & Up Close

On Repeat

The only difference, it seems, is that it is all happening a few hundred kilometers further down. The bombs, the rhetoric, the images, the dead, the wounded, the lies, the media – it is all the same. Lebanon 2006 has become Gaza 2009, and the world still argues over whether to ask for a ceasefire or let Israel play its deadly game a few more rounds. Even the flyers are the same. I remember we once found them on our rooftop: ‘Hassan [Nasrallah] is playing with fire! You tell him to stop and we will stop bombing you.’ They are having similar ones in Gaza now, complete with phonenumbers to call if you want to tell the Israelis ‘where the terrorists are’. A good example of what to do with these requests can be found here.

But those are the harmless type of flyers, pieces of paper you can laugh at, then crumple up and throw away. The ones that say ‘tonight your neighborhood will be bombed’ are a little harder to ignore. And the people in Lebanon at least had somewhere to go – although sometimes bombed on their way out of villages – but the people of Gaza, where can they go?

Moreover, why these flyers? If I tell you in advance I will kill you, is it then no longer a crime when I do?

Paper is not the only way of communicating, of course. It’s quite easy to pick up the phone and call a random number. In Lebanon, we get phone calls from Israel with pre-recorded messages in Arabic telling us to dump that Hezbollah-guy already. In Gaza, so I’ve heard, the calls are personal, telling people specifically that their house is the next one to be bombed. It is unclear whether these calls are made by the government or by zealous settlers who want to help their army hurt as many Palestinians as possible, physically or psychologically.

Of course, for every action there is a reaction, and the movements on the Palestinian side of the war are now circulating emails with the access code for Tel Aviv and how to say in Hebrew ‘there is a suicide bomber outside your house!’ The more interesting campaign, however, encourages everyone to call the people in Gaza and let them know that there are many who support and think about them in this hellish time. It can be done as follows:

You want to call a family in Gaza and give it support? 1. Dial, from a mobile, fixed, or public phone Palestine code number: 00970 2. then dial Gaza code: 8 3. dial 7 digits , given that the first 3 digits are one of the following: 213 -205 – 206 – 282- 283 – 284 – 286 4. then dial 4 other random digits

example: 00970 8 213 5678

There is often no electricity, so it might be hard to find someone who can actually pick up the phone, but I would urge you to try nonetheless. As a Palestinian currently living in Belgium says:

"I'm from Gaza but currently i live in Belgium for studying, or actually i have just finished my master, but all my family lives in Gaza. I talked today with my mother, and i was surprised when she told me that the telephone doesn’t stop ringing from people from other countries like Iraq, Saudi, Lebanon... and many many people. They dont know them and they talked for hours with them, the thing is you can’t imagine how much this raised my family morale as well as all the Gazan's familes over there, even me where i almost lost my faith with all the international community especially from the arabs. It raised me too much up."

And if you can’t get through, or if you only speak Dutch, please go to www.verhefjestem.nl and send a message to the members of the Dutch parliament. They will reply that they are on vacation until January 12th, but maybe an enormous stack of emails will prompt them to do something upon return. For many Gazans that will be too late, but for others it might be just in time.