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Gaza Phone Tag

by MUHAMMAD ALI KHALIDI

“…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.

P: Any idea when we can get fuel for our cars?  Or medical supplies?  Or food and water?

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: khalidi@yorku.ca

 

 

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