Thursday, January 15, 2009

The War

I didn't expect it to be quiet for the entire time that I'm going to be here. I don't know if I'm in a war zone or not. For the most part, I have no sense that there's fighting going on 65km away in Gaza. I get updates online and on TV just as if I were living 7000km away in Montreal. That said, every once in a while something does happen that makes it feel a lot closer; a colleague avoids answering his cell phone because the army is trying to call him up; thick, black smoke occasionally rising from the hills around Jerusalem (it's most likely just burning tires from a demonstration); an air-raid siren sounding (accidentally) in the middle of Lunch. It is a strange feeling. I definitely have a sense of young-boy excitement, eliciting memories of action-fantasy movies but that's contrasted by a sense of fear that each passing bus will explode or walking around, using my peripheral vision to scan for any raging bulldozers. It's important to keep both in check (to avoid any dangerous site-seeing or locking myself in my apartment). As long as I do, I know I'll be safe and continue to enjoy my time here.

There's a surreal aspect to it all. About a week or two before fighting broke out, when Hamas was launching the occasional rocket into Israel, I was hanging out on the beach in Tel Aviv with two friends, recovering from a night-out. There we were, drinking our cappuccinos, people surfing in the minimal waves, when a group of Apache helicopters fly-by over the water, heading south. Later on, when we onto our second helping of everything, they returned. All that was missing was for Wagner to be blasting from the speakers and Kilgore giving a monologue. When I checked the news later that day, I found that Israel had bombed a missile launching site in northern Gaza.

This photo is from the day after the fighting erupted. I was leaving the old city with Brooke when we spotted black smoke coming from the West Bank. It initially had us worried but after scanning online news reports, we concluded it must have been burning tires from one of the many demonstrations taking place throughout the Arab populated areas. That wall is the security barrier.

2 comments:

  1. Pretty crazy stuff. It must be a pretty weird feeling being in such close proximity and yet so ditached from it all. It would be like if there was a war going on in Laval.

    Keep safe and make the most of your time. Say hi to the beach for me. I'll make sure to give the snow bank that I shoveled my way out of yesterday your best regards.

    nim

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  2. This blog is a really good idea, seing Israel in those days by your eyes and experience.
    Keep going on, it's really interesting :)

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