“Sorry, I have to work late” takes on a different meaning when your boyfriend is a foreign correspondent and the region he covers is quickly descending into war.
But that is essentially how a recent conversation went. It looks as though our plans for a weekend visit will have to be put on hold – for the foreseeable future.
The scenes coming out of Gaza and Israel over the past few days are surreal (Not to mention disturbing, terrifying, heartbreaking, and senseless).
It’s hard enough maintaining a long distance relationship, but knowing that my beloved is working in the midst of a constant hailstorm of airstrikes and simultaneous shells from warships out to sea, is more than unsettling.
He assures me he and his team are taking every precaution to stay safe, but I don’t think I will soon get used to seeing him in a flak jacket.
The stories and images coming out of Gaza, where he is based, are beyond belief. I have been glued to the news and feel for the families of the growing numbers of civilians – many of which are young children – being killed in the occupied Palestinian territory and those who have lost their lives across the border in Israel.
It was only a few weeks ago that we were having dinner on the terrace of a seaside restaurant in Tel Aviv, and strolling around the thrift market in Jaffa. It’s difficult to reconcile those fresh memories with the pictures I’ve been seeing of people running for cover in Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel, for fear of incoming Rockets from Gaza.
With the recent calm in Israel and the West Bank, it’s easy for a visitor like me to forget just how delicate the situation is. A few weeks ago, we were hiking in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon. It was a sublime day, unseasonably warm and sunny for fall – and all of a sudden in the middle of a pastoral mountain scene, we came across an Israeli military tank. It seemed wildly out of place then, but not so much in the context of the last few days.
Reporting from a war zone is, of course, by definition incredibly dangerous and unpredictable, but recent attacks by the Israeli army on buildings in Gaza that house foreign and local journalists are especially worrying.
Throughout all of it, Twitter has been an absolute lifeline. Without the reassuring live feed, with reliable real time updates from the ground there – which has not been out of my sight in the past few days – I would be completely beside myself.
Innocent people on both sides of this conflict are suffering and I can only imagine the fear and anger and heartbreak Palestinians and Israelis are feeling. I empathize with the friends and families of all of the journalists and aid workers doing good work in a very dangerous situation. I hope it comes to an end soon.