GAZA, Palestinian Territory (WNB) - Scooter Van Neuter is reporting live from Gaza, as Israeli forces mount a ground offensive against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip.
This morning I hired the hotel desk clerk's sister, Fariha Lamya-Ghadir, (English translation: "Happy Brown-Lipped Horse Pond"), as my editorial assistant to replace Mistee. A big plus is Fariha has news experience and speaks fairly good English. On the minus side, she has more facial hair than me and smells like a diseased yak.
10:13 a.m. - After instructing Fariha on the job fundamentals - phone etiquette, laying out my clothes, basic cocktail mixology, fart suppression, no direct eye contact, etc.. We moved to our balcony vantage point in order to report on the Israeli offensive.
10:57 a.m. - The Gaza neighborhood below is a surreal landscape of burning cars, darting combatants, and scattered explosions. If I were closer I would see the stern determination mixed with fear etched on the young faces of the Hamas fighters as they indiscriminately fire their tommy guns from behind piles of smoldering rubble. IDF soldiers half a block away are almost certainly grimacing in the heat, smoke, and noise as they crouch behind an tank-like vehicle with a cannon on top. One boy-faced soldier is probably yelling for more ammo and bombs, as another maybe curses the enemy while laying down a deadly hail of hot lead from his powerful army rifle. The sultry morning air is heavy with the acrid smell of gun powder, bomb smoke, and desperation, I would imagine.
11:34 p.m. - Reporting on the carnage unfolding 11 stories below and four blocks over is mentally and physically exhausting, especially without binoculars. Fariha and I go downstairs for a delicious lunch of lamb skewers and mai tais.
1:12 p.m. - I'm not sure what's worse, watching people being torn apart by bombs and bullets in a spray of blood and tissue, or watching Fariha eat lamb skewers - it was like a National Geographic special on the feeding habits of hyenas, only more violent. Judging by the fact our waiter did not duck under a table as I did, one can only assume blasting a loud, greasy fart after the last bite of a meal is considered normal in this culture. For a second Fariha looked like a large, black puffer fish as the canvas bag she was wearing (hijab? burqa?) briefly inflated. A small lizard on the floor went into what appeared to be some kind of seizure before going tits up under her chair. Lamb grease glistened on Fariha's lips like Vaseline.
1:31 p.m. - The stress of war has obviously compromised my immune system so I've decided to take the rest of the day off. I gave Fariha my crappiest camera and sent her on a photographic assignment to get some pics of the nearby Israeli check point, then called the IDF tip line to report a suspected suicide bomber covered in lamb grease in the area.
More tomorrow, if I'm up for it.