Tuesday, July 24, 2007

[wvns] Gaza Roadblock

Threatened at a Gaza roadblock
Mohammed Omer, Rafah
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/6670117.stm


Fighting between Hamas and Fatah factions coupled with the threat of
Israeli air strikes is keeping most Gaza residents indoors. A
Palestinian journalist from Rafah describes a trip to Gaza City, and a
student there describes exam frustrations.

MOHAMMED OMER, 22, JOURNALIST, RAFAH, GAZA
I live in Rafah but have gone to Gaza City to report on the factional
fighting.


Masked gunman controlling a street in Gaza City

On Tuesday, I was stopped by three militants at a roadblock close to
the Palestinian Legislative Council. I was walking on one side of the
street and another young guy was on the other side.

The gunmen shouted "Stop! Stop!". They made us raise our hands and
approach them slowly.

They were Palestinian, definitely, from the accent, but I couldn't see
their faces because they wore masks.

They formed a triangle around me - two in front, and one behind.

I said, "Do you know who I am?"


One of those in front said, "We don't care", and shot two bullets into
the ground near my feet.

"Let's shoot him in the legs," said the other.

I showed them my ID and my news card. One of them then told me to go -
they didn't want to see me, he said.

I was reluctant to move away because I've heard they can shoot you
once you turn your back. I could see them shaking and I felt anything
could have happened.

So for a few metres I faced them as I walked away and kept eye
contact. Then they shouted "Go, go!". They kept the other guy - I
don't know what happened to him.

Some groups are targeting men with beards and women with veils

I never expected Gaza to be like this.

I think the men were my age or a bit older. They are working for
suspicious people - maybe not even for Hamas or Fatah but for their
own reasons.

I've heard some groups are targeting men with beards and women with
veils.

I actually went back into Gaza City this morning because I heard on
the radio and from a friend that it was OK again.

But it wasn't. I saw a roadblock, empty streets and felt the tension.
I was there for a very short time.

Here in Rafah it is quiet, but it's still not safe to go around.
Funerals have been going on this afternoon.

The militants have taken positions in Rafah so roadblocks could be
their next step.

I've been feeling very depressed since that incident on Tuesday. What
if I'd ended up being paralysed by that stupid young man?

SHAIMAA NAJI, 21, OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY STUDENT, GAZA CITY
I live in the middle of Gaza City. It is quite quiet today, but we
are still staying at home. We have been stuck indoors, unable to leave.

We closed all the shutters and moved downstairs into a room with just
one window last Saturday.

There was shooting everywhere and we didn't know where it came from.
We had to protect ourselves.

Last night was the first time we opened the windows since then, to let
some air in. Nobody has left the house for days.


Insecurity has spread across Gaza Strip

My father is a doctor and has been really upset about not being able
to see his patients in his clinic.

He tried to go on Sunday, but army people told him to go back.

We don't know who they are, because they all wear the same uniform and
they cover their faces.

I was hoping to graduate this summer, but I don't know about that
anymore.

My degree course is based in Bethlehem, but I haven't been able to
visit the West Bank for five years. I tried many times to get
permission, but was always refused.

I've never met any of my teachers or classmates in Bethlehem. We learn
off the internet and through video-conferencing.

There are 10 of us in this situation in Gaza. It's a really boring way
to learn.

We were meant to give one of our final presentations by
video-conference tomorrow, but that is impossible now. They'll have to
postpone our exams.

*********************************************************************

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