When I got up this morning, my wife was still sleeping. I made myself a cup of tea, and I made a series of phone calls to follow up on what was going on with the Palestinian Central Council meetings–to find out whether there would be a declaration of Palestinian statehood or whether that would be postponed. I wrote a news story saying that the meetings were resumed and a final statement will be issued.
After I filed the story to the six news organizations that I string for, I decided to go down to where the members are meeting, which is the office of Yasser Arafat. I saw a big crowd of reporters. I came closer and asked one of the reporters what was going on, and he said that a final statement was made by the head of the council. He had read it in front of the cameras. I really felt bad that I missed the reading of the statement, which I had been waiting for these past three days. But suddenly, a man from Arafat’s office came out holding copies of the statement. I ran and took one from him. I read some of the paragraphs in the six-page report and found out that the council postponed the declaration of the Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza until June and that the council would hold a series of open-ended meetings. I immediately took out my cell phone and dialed the telephone numbers of each of the six organizations, saying, “It is urgent, the Palestinian Central Council postponed the declaration of a state …” I filed the rest of the story on the phone. Then, I went back home to write a wider report on the newest development, and filed the report to everybody.
At 1 p.m., I remembered that seven Israelis were coming with a friend of mine to visit Gaza, and I arranged to meet them in Gaza and then drive by car to Rafah, a town in southern Gaza. The town is on the Egyptian-Palestinian-Israeli border. Besides speaking English and Arabic, I also speak fluent Hebrew because I worked in Israel when I was a teenager and studied the language at the Islamic University of Gaza, where I got my B.A. in English language and literature. So I went to meet the Israelis. They were three women and four men. We spoke for a while, then we decided to drive to Rafah.
It took 45 minutes to get there. Two people who’d been waiting for us took us to visit a Palestinian family living in the refugee camp in Rafah. The father and the mother have 15 children in two rooms. They and their house looked very poor. The Israelis were impressed and said that they never expected people to be as poor as this. The problem is that the parents thought that the group was a charity organization that would support them, but I explained to the family that this group of Israelis came to show sympathy and explain that they support Palestinian independence. The family thanked us, and then we drove back to Gaza and the Israelis returned to Israel. What a day!