“…hundreds of thousands of Gazans have received warnings in the form of telephone messages or fliers that their buildings are Israeli targets…”
— New York Times, 1 January 2009
Israeli soldier: Hello, Abdul, this is the Israel Defense Forces speaking…
Palestinian civilian: My name isn’t Abdul, I think you have the wrong number.
I: As I said this is the IDF, we never have wrong information.
P: So how can I help you?
I: I’m just calling to warn you to evacuate your place because of an imminent airstrike on a Hamas target in your building.
P: But there’s no Hamas in my building.
I: Not even on your street?
P: No, there was a Hamas member of parliament on the next street but you put him in jail.
I: Must be old information, anyway, there’s going to be an airstrike so you better go.
P: Can you tell me where you’d like me to go to?
I: It’s not my business, check into a hotel, stay with relatives on the beach, take a vacation in Cyprus, just go.
P: I’ve been unemployed for a year because of your siege so I can’t afford a hotel right now. My relatives just got bombed on the beach, in the Shati’ refugee camp. And I can’t get out of Gaza because no one can leave.
I: Don’t blame me, I’m just warning you.
P: So, if there were a Hamas guy in my building, what would prevent me from going to warn him so he could escape the airstrike?
I: Hmm… we hadn’t thought of that. I’ll make a note of it for my commanding officer.
P: Are you going to call everyone else in the building, or should I spread the word myself?
I: Do us a favor and tell the women and children. We’re mostly concerned not to harm children.
P: You mean, like the 634 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security personnel in Gaza since September 2000?
I: Maybe they weren’t civilians–we’re only concerned with civilian children.
P: As opposed to the terroristic children who attack you?
I: Hey, don’t make fun of the IDF, we’re a very sensitive army, we don’t take criticism well.
P: Sorry, it’s just that you haven’t been too concerned with children’s lives throughout this last ceasefire—you killed two teenagers on December 2. I guess they were just “collateral damage” from a targeted assassination.
I: Hey, it’s tough to be surgical, but we do our best. We don’t do what we call “Arab work”. No offense.
P: While you’re being so helpful, can you tell me when you might turn the power back on in Gaza?
I: I have no information on that.
I: Listen, there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, don’t believe the Hamas propaganda. Anyway, I’m only obeying orders, if it weren’t for me you would have been dead soon.
P: I still might be.
I: Yeah, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
P: I have to go now, I hear an F-16 overhead.
I: Right on schedule! And remember to stay away from mosques, they’re usually stuffed full of explosives.
P: (Hangs up)
MUHAMMAD ALI KHALIDI is Associate Professor of Philosophy at York University in Toronto. He can be reached at: email@example.com