Euronews’ special correspondent in Gaza, Valérie Gauriat, reports on the strange reality of life in the territory
Back to the hotel, one of those said not to be a target of the IDF as it is where the media go. In the hall, I come across several families looking distraught. Once on the floor of my room, just as I am about to open my door, a group of chattering, nervous children, come out of the room next to mine. They are followed by two women, and a man, looking completely dismayed. A little further down the corridor, more families pour out of rooms, seeming lost, and embarrassed. Most are dressed very simply. They stare at me and my western attire, as estranged here as they are. And suddenly I understand. “Shegaia?” I ask a man, who nods and hurriedly calls the kids back into the room. Shegaia was bombed again this afternoon, I was watching it burn for the second time, from the office windows with the crew, as another neighbourhood was also swallowed by thick grey smoke. They are among the last wave of displaced families who found refuge in this hotel. The older women starts talking to me, screaming. She points at the flak jacket hanging from my wrist, I understand the word “filifin”, journalist, in Arabic. I drop it to the floor. Then she shows her bosom, the children, and talks again. I do not understand her words, but I know what she is talking about. Her gestures are clear enough; the house fell over them, many people died. She has to lean against the wall, to take her breath. I talk to her in English, I also make gestures. Our eyes are talking. I show the children, the younger couple with her, ask if all the family is there. She knows the word family. “Kul” she says, they are all there. She covers me in kisses.
Later on, I go downstairs for my first meal in two days. The view seems to come out of a Disneyland reconstitution of an oasis. Suddenly a rocket shrieks through the air, tearing the black of the sky. A small girl shrieks back. She knows this sound. Her father scurries out of the restaurant, clutching his child in his arms, soothing her with soft words, pressing her cheek against his own. He goes past a group of journalists sitting at the next table; they are talking about their day’s exploits; they haven’t stopped their loud chatter nor moved an eyebrow for even half a second. It’s not their problem, the cameras are off now.