Live from Gaza, Eoin Murray, Trócaire

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A night's sleep

If you've ever been to an airshow, or lived in certain parts of Germany (during the Cold War), or lived in south Lebanon, or in the Gaza Strip, then you may have heard what a sonic boom actually sounds like.

It happens when a plane (in Gaza it is the Israeli F-16s) break the sound barrier. They create a kind of bubble into which the plane flies and as they travel along directly underneath the lane there is an enormous noise, shaking buildings, popping windows - it is like an earthquake. In the immediate aftermath of one your body shakes from the inside out - it takes more then a few minutes to calm down. The Israeli military have been using them in Gaza for over a year now - terrifying the entire population almost simultaneously. They were happening, over the past few months, at times designed to disrupt sleep patterns - at, for example, 2.15, 2.22, 2.43, 2.45, 3.10 - with just enough irregularity to destroy a night's sleep.

Now, thankfully, in the past ten days or so there have been none - and last night was no exception. In fact - to the best of my knowledge - barely a whistle was heard overnight in the Gaza Strip. No extra-judicial executions, no homemade rockets fired into Israel - it almost seems too quiet.

Two short-term predictions are being made about this relative 'paradise' of calm.

The first is that from the time the ceasefire happens in Lebanon the Israeli cabinet will want to focus again on Gaza. The second is that the cabinet and the military - shaken by their tough military experience in Lebanon will want a period of calm.

One way or another the people in Gaza will be sitting on the edge of their seats, clasped in tension, wondering which one it is going to be.

More then anything they are praying that it will not be a return to the collective punishment of the sonic booms.


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