Yesterday was tawjihi day, the day on which Palestinian students find out what their cumulative high school achievement will be. My students in my TOEFL class were elated as they received mid-90s on it. This test determines where one can go to university. On tawjihi day everyone offers chocolates to all people they encounter and celebrate with fireworks. It was very upsetting yesterday, however, because the fireworks (which sound far too much like Israeli gunfire) came on day when everyone was expecting the Israeli soldiers to bring their tanks back into the West Bank. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, though there are an enormous amount of checkpoints everywhere you turn. It took 4 checkpoints to travel from Beit Lahem to Al Quds, a 10km/1 checkpoint trip on a normal day. At the same time it’s hard to be excited about the students and their future when everything in Ghaza and Lebanon seems so bleak.
I have been unable to work for the past 24 hours. I am so worried about the people in Ghaza and Lebanon. I’ve been glued to Al Manar and Al Jazeera tv as much as possible or checking the news on the internet. I am appalled by the devastation the Israeli Occupation Forces are causing in the north and the south. I’ve been trying desperately to see how friends in Lebanon are doing and haven’t been able to get through via telephone. I finally was able to get in touch with one friend online. He’s a photojournalist who managed to get on the last flight out of Amman into Beirut. Now, of course, all flights are canceled and he just sent me a message saying they are bombing the airport again now. It’s already incapacitated, but apparently that’s not good enough for the IOF. They want to create a situation of starvation and death in Lebanon as well as in Ghaza. In Hamra, an area in South Beirut where the American University of Beirut is, the electricity is minimal, as the IOF also bombed the power plant and people are running off of generators, if they have them. Apparently, the infrastructure is also greatly damaged by the IOF. The roads and bridges are dangerous and unstable. Between the sea blockade, the road to Damascus, and the airport the country is now as strangled as Ghaza is. It’s completely closed off. I’ve heard that people are finding food and candle shortages in the markets, though apparently the Lebanese military is sending convoys of food to markets as they can. There are rumors that tonight the Israelis will attack the roads at nights and in some places like Sida Lebanese civilian cars are being attacked. I’m also told not to trust the television news as the situation is far more serious than the news is making it out to be. My friend’s car had a bomb dropped 25 meters in front of his car followed by Israeli shelling. Most of my friends are heading to the north, hopefully before it gets dark as I’m very worried that they will be attacked on the roads or even face trouble if they drive on one of the damaged roads. I’m also especially sad for my one friend who has not seen his family in Beirut for more than 5 years and was planning to go in two weeks. It will be devastating if he cannot travel with his new wife.