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This is what life in Gaza sounds like

I have heard the sounds of war before. In Iraq, I was jolted from sleep by the sound of incoming rockets, massive truck bombs, and exploding IEDs. In Afghanistan, I temporarily lost my hearing when an explosives-packed SUV detonated meters from my office. I have heard windows shatter and bystanders scream. And I have seen the aftermath: sinewy flesh, bone shards, jaw fragments.

But I have never heard the discord of sounds, the cacophony of violence, that Gaza’s Palestinians – all of them – know so well. Here, the ever-present drone of machines overhead mingles with the scream of jet sorties, tank shelling, and bursts of heavy guns from naval battleships. Here, modern warfare’s full range of fronts is audible everywhere and all at once.

I share a flat with two Palestinian journalists in the heart of Gaza City. Each night, we sit on the balcony floor in the dark and listen to the drones. Sometimes they seem to hover just over us, stationary and menacing. Once, my colleague snapped a photo, and the flash went off. We crawled inside in a hurry, wondering whether the drone operator, somewhere far away, would think the snap something else and decide to “liquidate” us.

The sound of Israeli drones is ever-present in Gaza’s skies (via Lara Aburamadan):

Mostly, though, there’s no time for such calculations. When we hear an F-16 begin to descend, we have no idea where the missile will fall. The one exception is when a drone “knocks” on the target beforehand. When that happens, we grab our cameras and wait for the strike. It usually comes within a few minutes. In other cases, all we hear is the gathering thunder of jet engines, a pause as the “payload” is released, and then a massive boom followed by the reverb of debris crashing to the ground. Sometimes, our building shakes.

An August 1 airstrike on the Islamic University in the heart of Gaza City (via Lara Aburamadan):

Occasionally, especially at night, we’ll hear an F-16 swoop in, see the plume of smoke it leaves in its wake – but notice that there is no explosion. We have no idea why these strikes are silent. Could they be “concrete bombs” – non-explosive missiles that a Voice of America report describes as “rocks,” hitting their their target at hundreds of kilometers per hour?

The tank shelling is even less predictable. As former Israeli artillery corpsman Idan Barir wrote in +972 last week: “It is impossible to aim the shells in an accurate manner and they are not meant to hit specific targets.” When the shelling east of Gaza City was worst, we could hear several a minute, the horizon splattered with slate circles of dust. One morning, after a particularly fierce night of attacks, we watched the sunrise to the sound of concussions from the east.

Sunrise over Gaza City, July 31, with the sounds of tank shelling along the eastern border (Samer Badawi):

To the west, where the Mediterranean is otherwise quiet, we hear battleships take aim at the Gaza coast. Last night, several dozen bursts pierced the night sky, pounding the port nearby. We could see the flashes of light but not the points of impact. Since we are near the sea, and the battleships are closer than the tanks, it takes us longer to catch our breath when the guns fall silent.

Israeli naval warships shell the Gaza port, August 9 (via Lara Aburamadan):

Throughout, my colleagues and I tweet about the attacks. When the battleships pause, we report to the world: “Quiet now. Just drones.” And that is the sound of “normal” in Gaza.

Gaza dispatch: ‘Death will come and life will go on’
IDF soldier: Artillery fire in Gaza is like Russian roulette
Gaza war: It’s about keeping the Palestinians under control

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    1. Pedro X

      This is what I hear from Gaza:

      “Oh Allah, destroy the Jews, those who support the Jews, those who side with the Jews, cooperate with the Jews, trade with the Jews, or open a gateway for them into the land of Islam.”

      “We are ready to sacrifice all the sons of the Palestinian people for this holy cause”

      “We will not let go of our weapons, even if the number of martyrs exceeds two million, not just 2,000.”

      (source: Sermon by Gaza Iman on August 8, 2014 as broadcast on aljazeera:

      Samer, as long as your people desire and act to kill the Jews, you will not hear the sounds of silence.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Goldmarx

      And of course Israel has no rabbis preaching equally odious sentiments toward the Palestinians?

      Reply to Comment
    3. JohnW

      “And of course Israel has no rabbis preaching equally odious sentiments toward the Palestinians?”

      But you a so called Zionist, Goldmarx are not worried about Hamas Jew hatred. You are only rattled by some idiot Jews who act the same way the other way. Go figure.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Goldmarx

      And where did I say I wasn’t “worried” about it?

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        “And where did I say I wasn’t “worried” about it?”

        The point is that while you continually worry about what some demented Rabbis say, I never caught you worrying even once worrying about Hamas’s Jew hatred.

        It sorta displays where your priorities lie Goldie. Don’t you think? Wink wink.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Pedro X


      The type of expression of genocide by Palestinians is the norm not the exception. That is why it is broadcast over Arab TV and radio.

      For instance another Iman at the Deir Al-Balah Mosque on July 25, 2014 made the following comments which were broadcast of Hamas TV:

      “Our doctrine in fighting you (the Jews) is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive”

      Hamas rebroadcast on Al-Aqsa TV a speech by Muslim Brotherhood leader Tareq Al-Suwaidan, in which he said:

      “Every mother – especially the mothers in Palestine, but every mother in the [Islamic] Nation, not just Palestine – must nurse her children on hatred of the sons of Zion. We hate them and they are our enemies. We will plant this in their [our children’s] souls, so that a new generation will grow among us, which will erase them from the face of the earth.”

      Of course this is only repeating the call to genocide of the Jews found in Hamas’ charter.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Kolumn8

      And this is precisely the problem with propagandists like you. It is the sounds that you don’t hear that make it obvious how one-sided your “reporting” is. You don’t hear the rockets being shot at Israel. You don’t hear the preachers on Hamas television preaching for the murder of every Jew. For you this is a morality play and you have chosen a side.. Hamas’ side.

      As long as the sound of normal in Gaza is that of rockets being shot at Israel don’t expect that to be only loud sounds you hear. We are not going to be quiet while your Hamas friends are trying to kill us.

      Reply to Comment
    7. CigarButNoNice

      Pedro X: “This is what I hear from Gaza”

      Exactly. What the anti-Zionists either fail to perceive or sneakily mask their support for is the following fact: The people in Gaza (and Judea and Samaria) want the same thing for the Jews that ISIS is now doing to the Christians and Yazidis of Iraq. They want to conquer, loot, rape, behead and destroy the Infidel.

      Anti-Zionism means supporting Islamic imperialism.

      Reply to Comment
    8. JG

      You beleive the nonsense you write, do you? blink blink?
      You must be some demented Rabbi…..

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        I believe that you add no value to the discussions here JG.

        Go on, I dare ya, say something smart. Admit it, you haven’t got it in ya, wink wink.

        Reply to Comment
    9. Felix Reichert

      This is what I hear from Israel

      “Oh Jehova, destroy all the Palestinians, those who support the Palestinians, those who side with the Palestinians, cooperate with Palestinians, or open a gateway for them into the land of Judaism (and destroy all the other Muslims, while you’re at it).”

      “We are ready to sacrifice all the sons of Israel for this holy cause”

      “We will not let go of our weapons, even if the number of dead soldiers exceeds seventy-thousand, not just (around) 70.”

      (Source [paraphrased]: Israeli rabbi Dov Lior from the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, 2014)

      Pedro, as long as your people desire and act to cast out and/or kill the Palestinians, you will not hear the sounds of silence.

      (This is obviously a ridiculously stupid argument, I’m just making it to show you how dumb it is)

      Reply to Comment
    10. Goldmarx

      G: “And where did I say I wasn’t “worried” about it?”

      J:The point is that while you continually worry about what some demented Rabbis say.

      Actually, I rarely discuss what the clergy think. I prefer to post about what more powerful Israelis say, linke MKs Moshe Feiglin or Ayelet Shaked.

      Reply to Comment