‘That doesn’t sound like the Shabbat siren’ (Jerusalem gets rockets)

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Israeli anti-riot policeman arrest a Palestinian men during a protest in solidarity with Gaza, outside the Old City, Jerusalem, November 16, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

It was dusk in East Jerusalem today when the sirens went off. A friend went to the window and said, “That doesn’t sound like the Shabbat siren.” We turned on Al Jazeera, and the phone started ringing. There were reports that rockets from Gaza had landed in the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements, and in the Giv’at Ze’ev, a settlement north and west of the city.  

That was at 4:40. Later I rode through the occupied city from Beit Hanina toward the Old City.  The streets were eerily quiet.  I guess people were glued to their televisions, not keen on going out. 

The television was on at my Scottish friend’s house in Sheikh Jarrah. She told me she had had the same response to the warnings: “That didn’t sound like the Sabbath hooter.” She ran out on the roof to see what was going on. But you couldn’t see any rockets in East Jerusalem. 

I’ve seen a bunch of friends tonight, and they’re all doing the same thing:  surfing the internet on television monitors, from Al Jazeera to the BBC, hearing Abu Mazen’s call for national unity and a renewal of his pledge to go to the U.N. in two weeks to seek observer state status, hearing Ismail Haniya’s pledge to resist. And hearing rumors that Hamas is about to hold a live press conference to announce that it has captured a downed Israeli airman.

In Jerusalem: anticipation, dread, quiet. No one knows what will happen next.


Afternoon demonstrations outside Damascus Gate were chaotic today. Soldiers on horses mashing old women up against barricades. Older men hanging back but shouting Fuck Israel.

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