The Week After

Elliott Woods, for the Pulitzer Center

Gaza1_19_09_Lo_4Residents of Zeitoun, on the edge of Gaza City, watch in fear as an Israeli F-15 streaks by on Sunday, Jan. 18, the first day of the Israel's unilateral cease-fire. Moments later, the villagers pictured here unearthed the remains of the last missing members of the Samouni family in the rubble of a bombed-out house. Twenty-nine Samounis — all civilians — were killed during Israel's three-week war with Hamas. Palestinian and UN health officials claim that civilians comprise more than half of the 1,300 Gazans killed during the war. Elliott D. Woods

Asim and I woke up to gunfire this morning, despite the fact that both Israel and Hamas announced unilateral cease-fires last Sunday, January 18. The shots weren't aimed at anyone—as far as we know. Israeli gunboats are patrolling the Mediterranean coastline beside Gaza City, pumping out rounds at empty stretches of beach.

The staff at Al-Deira Hotel, where Asim and I met our driver and translator this morning, shrugged off the shooting, which shook the windows of the hotel and put customers like us ill at ease. If anything, the staff seemed bemused, annoyed, tired. Almost a week after Israel stopped dropping bombs, and twenty-four hours after IDF soldiers withdrew from Gaza, drones still buzz overhead and gunboats are harassing the shaky sleep of residents here.

It's categorically inaccurate to say that Israel has ceased its fire — the Israeli military hasn't let up on its psychological war against the people of Gaza.

"The occupation kills you slowly," said Mahdi Sultan, whose father was killed by an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia two weeks ago.

"It's the fear and the constant threat," Mahdi said, that gets to you in the end.