My lecture today was about adaptation to climate change —- a very important topic for the new generation of engineers in Gaza to understand. We were in the middle of discussing the relative merits of adaptation versus mitigation, and I was trying to explain that its not an either/or situation. We need to do both.
All of a sudden we heard a very loud voice over the microphone outside announcing that Israel had just killed the #1 military leader in Gaza. Since I don’t speak Arabic, I had no idea of the message but I could tell by the students’ body language that it was something serious.
The students recommended we cut the class short because “the cars will leave the streets and it will be difficult to get home.” And because there would certainly be more military actions following this assassination. No one seemed upset, or particularly alarmed. But they all noted that tonight would be different than previous evenings when we’ve heard Palestinian rockets and Israeli bombs.
Apparently Israeli had been considering its options and decided that targeted assassinations of Hamas leadership was the “solution”.
Three of my students offered to escort me home. We left the building and heard gunfire nearby — and the young children were peering out of windows and doors. The streets were quickly emptying at 4:30 pm …. a very odd feeling in this super-crowded city.
I called my Palestinian family to tell them I was safe. And then the four of us stopped in a restaurant to talk and drink tea. I enjoy talking with my students because they are so eager to improve their English skills.
One student said “Now you are going to experience something new for you that we already ‘adapted’ to and can’t mitigate.”
I’m afraid we sat in the restaurant too long because my Palestinian family sent me a text message asking about my whereabouts. They were worried about me.
The students and I walked the deserted streets to the house. This is the quietest I have heard Gaza since I arrived 7 weeks ago. Usually there are horns honking, merchants announcing their sales, and many other noises. Not tonight. Dead quiet. And very dark. On the side streets there are no lights but I could see some figures sitting in the doorways ….. just quietly watching. We also heard the drones flying overhead.
I arrived home and said “goodbye” to the students but now (3 hours later) I’m worried about them and wonder if they found a car to take them home, a very great distance from Gaza City.
In my Palestinian family’s home, a young (25 years old) nephew was sitting on the couch. I learned that he lives far away and couldn’t get home.
Things remained quiet, except for some ambulance sirens in the street. The family had the local news on the TV and was making something to eat and washing clothes. It all seemed pretty normal except for the images on the TV. There’s been alot of bombing in Gaza today and the news cameras seem to have covered it all. Since I don’t understand Arabic, I couldn’t make much sense of the TV news coverage. But Aljazeera covered today’s assassination here.
We sat and ate, and then cleared the plates. Thankfully the generator had fuel and I sent a note to my children.
Then the building shook. I felt it before I heard it —- the blast was a few blocks away but large enough to break windows, including the windows in my family’s home. We heard breaking glass everywhere.
Looking out the bedroom window, we could see a big explosion —- fire and smoke —- but couldn’t tell which building was hit. The ambulances were on the scene immediately. Lots of voices shouting …. people cleaning up glass …. occupants in my building running up and down the stairs. I couldn’t understand a word but there was no need for a translator. I could tell everyone was very worried. Then a second blast — as loud and jolting as the first, apparently in the same location. What are the Israeli’s targeting there?
…….. more to follow